Sporting Saint Andrew

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-14-36-39As Scots all over the world come together to celebrate St Andrew’s Day it’s worth remembering how strong and diverse a tradtion it has been for centuries. Scottish migrants took it with them in their cultural baggage when making home around the globe – from San Francisco in the US to Invercargill in New Zealand.

Yet while balls and dinners were the most common, St Andrew’s Day celebrations have also long since been connected with sporting events. In Singapore and Malaysia, these usually took the form of rugby matches, played between Scottish teams and a tem comprised of players from diverse national backgrounds – thus often a team called “The Rest of the World”.

In Singapore, in 1932, the match took place at the Singapore Cricket Club, when “The Rest …

Celebrating Halloween in New Zealand

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-15-15-23It’s that time of the year again when people all over the world celebrate Halloween – a good moment to remember that Halloween has long since been one of the many cultural traditions Scots took with them to places all around the world where they settled. This included New Zealand, where Scottish communities in both the North and South Islands made Halloween celebrations a central part in their annual events calendar.

In Wellington, in 1908, a Scottish festival was held in Burns Hall. The event was advertised as ‘a night of Scottish song and story’, and there was also a lecture entitled ‘The Love Songs of Scotland’, which was delivered by the Rev. J. Aitken (see advertisement). The musical programme had a number of contributors, including a Mrs Dempster who …

Forwards and backwards

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 06.39.27In July 1909 the love story of Gabriel R. Gibson of Kilsyth – a small town halfway between Stirling and Glasgow – and Myrtle MacIntyre made headlines in the San Francisco Call. Gibson had fallen in love with MacIntyre and ‘wooed his sweetheart’ during his school days in Kilsyth. But, in 1903, Gibson left for the United States, seeking to make a better life for himself in Berkeley, California. His departure from Scotland did not put an end, however, to his love for Myrtle: the two kept in touch, corresponding regularly by sending many a letter across the Atlantic Ocean. But ‘[s]ix years of correspondence’ eventually ‘proved unsatisfactory to Gabriel . . . and he left for his native land . . . to wed Miss Myrtle MacInyre, the woman …

Federated Caledonian Society of South Africa

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 06.28.18While the South African War had a significant effect on the Scots in southern Africa in terms of their sense of imperial identity (see previous post), it also had a direct effect on Scottish ethnic associational culture there: it served to boost the idea of federation. First proposed in the early twentieth century, federation was framed as a unifying movement in what was a fractured society. Perhaps as one might expect, however, association members were more concerned with bringing their own lives back on track after the war, and hence no action was taken immediately.

The outbreak of the First World War provided another impetus, however, and the Federated Caledonian Society of South Africa was eventually established in 1918. Initially, it operated only in the Transvaal, but it soon extended …