Caledonian Games and New Year’s Day in New Zealand

The lusty sports of “Caledonia, stern and wild” have been celebrated in prose and verse by the greatest masters of both. They have a peculiar charm of their own. The combination of massive strength with deerlike agility, which is characteristic of the proficient Highland athlete, is seldom to be found in the athletes of other countries. . . . Scotchmen are the only people who, in these modern degenerate days . . . appear to attach the same importance to athletic sports as the classical nations of old did.’ (Evening Post, 2 January 1880 – click here to download an image of the newspaper page).

At the outset, Caledonian Games were ‘purely Scottish sports’ indeed, athletic feats being merged with the familiar tunes and dances ‘dear to the …

The Global Saint: St Andrew’s Day Celebrations around the World

StAD‘No saint in the calendar’, observed a reporter in the Hong Kong Daily Press in 1886, ‘receives the hearty and regular devotion paid to St Andrew by his flock in all parts of the world.’ And indeed, next to Burns Night, St Andrew’s Day has long since been the key holiday in the annual events calendar of the Scots overseas, offering an opportunity for them to gather and celebrate their Scottish heritage – a tradition that continues to this day. But let’s look at some of the events that have taken place since the mid-nineteenth century, when St Andrew’s Day celebrations began to proliferate globally.

In New York, in 1890, ‘the music of the bagpipes and the pungent aroma of the haggis’ filled the banquet room of the famous …

A perfect associationalist

Screen-Shot-2015-03-13-at-11.30.53When Archie Crosbie Haig died in Mount Gambier, South Australia, in the spring of 1945, the local paper was full of praise for his involvement in the community, focusing in particular on Haig’s contributions to the city’s many clubs and societies. He was, in fact, what we might call a perfect associationalist:

The late Mr. Haig was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and belonged to the Oddfellows Lodge. He took a keen interest in military affairs, and was a member of the Scottish Company … He was one of the originators of the first Mt. Gambier Football Association … For a number of years he was Arbiter for the South-Eastern Football Association. He did great work for the Mt. Gambier Caledonian Society, of which he was Secretary, and many

Gaelic societies in Scotland

Screen-Shot-2015-05-28-at-14.16.24Scots did not only settle in faraway climes or the near diaspora of England, Ireland and Wales. There was a significant internal movement
within Scotland. This movement was particularly common amongst members of what we might suitably term the internal Highland
diaspora, a diaspora comprised of Highland Scots who relocated further south.

As Scots who ventured further afield, these Scots often came together as a group, forming societies in several cities throughout Scotland. In Glasgow, for example, a Gaelic Society formalised transactions in 1887 (though there were earlier roots). As is outlined in its first transactions, published for Society members as a record of activities, given ‘the present transitionary state of the Gaelic race, it is of the utmost importance that the future generation should not lose touch with their …