Celebrating St Andrew’s Day in the Far East

HKicon-squareSt Andrew, Scotland’s patron saint, was celebrated by Scots around the world. In Asia, early references come from India where dinners were, by the 1850s, a common affair and widely reported in the press. They only achieved a more stable base, however, in the late-nineteenth century. As Stewart, in his exploration of the jute industry in Calcutta, has noted, the dinners were ‘the most important public ceremonial occasion each year for the British community’.

From India Scottish dinners soon extend their geographic reach—a development in unison with the expansion of the British sphere of influence in the Far East. We find references to celebrations of St Andrew’s Day dinners in Canton from the mid-1830s, hence the period by which a larger number of free merchants had commenced trade there.  In …

The Scots and St George

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 …