Today is St George’s Day and many English around the world will come together to celebrate England’s saint day. Despite its focus on celebrating English culture and traditions, express Englishness, however, St George’s Day often brought together migrants from both England and Scotland – and so did St Andrew’s Day. Some of the more recent unease displayed in Scotland towards the celebration of St George’s Day is not evident in the history of the Scottish diaspora abroad.
It was common, for example, that members from St Andrew’s societies would attend St George’s Day banquets, while members of St George’s societies could be found toasting the Scottish patron saint on St Andrew’s Day. In Toronto in 1910, at the 75th Annual Dinner of the St George’s Society, several Scots were certainly present at the event. There and and elsewhere, toasts given during the evening often featured those to the ‘sister societies’, highlighting the good relations often had (please click here for an example).
In New York connections between the sons of St George and the sons of St Andrew went even further, with the St Andrew’s and St George’s Societies sharing an Almoner and office space for a time in the late nineteenth century. Both societies were seeking to aid newly arrived immigrants (from their respective homelands) in distress, and felt that it was mutually beneficial to work together. In the spirit of that collaboration: happy St George’s Day!
For further details on the English Diaspora, please visit the English Diaspora website.