Join us for a wee dram! All proceeds go to the Scots’ Charitable Scholarship fund. Click to learn more & view flyer. Special thanks to The Haven! If you are interested in attending please PM Karen Campbell Mahoney in Facebook or email email@example.com
Every year on January 25th, Scots around the world participate in a magnificent feast called a “Burns Supper,” celebrating the life and poetry of the nation’s poet, Robert Burns, on his birthday. The bard was born on January 25, 1759, 262 years ago. This year, virtual celebrations can be found everywhere you look, making it easier than ever before to celebrate Burns at home (Burns Night In, if you will).
Robert Burns is a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish diaspora around the world. He is also regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism. Did you know there are more statues dedicated to Robert Burns than any other secular figure in the world?
If you would like to celebrate the the life of Robert Burns and host your own Burns Supper, you can find a great how-to guide here and recipes here. While this year’s Burns Supper may look different due to the pandemic, you can still gather with friends virtually, eat a meal together, and take turns reciting your favorite Burns poems or songs. You can even learn a few traditional Scottish dances virtually thanks to our friends at the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Boston Branch, who are hosting an evening of dance with a Burns Night theme on Monday, January 25, 2021 from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. EST. Send an inquiry note to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a typical year, a Burns Supper usually takes the following format:
To begin, the guests are piped into the venue, followed by the “Selkirk Grace.”
Next, the haggis is piped in and the host performs “Address to a Haggis.” As the poem wraps, everyone toasts to the haggis and the main meal is served, followed by dessert. If you don’t have access to haggis, you can serve lamb, steak pie, or a vegetarian alternative.
After the meal, the host typically recites a well known Burns poem, followed by the “Immortal Memory,” the main tribute speech to Burns. Next up is a tongue in cheek speech written in advance called the “Toast to the Lassies,” followed by a similarly jokey retort, “Reply to the Toast to the Lassies.” After the meal and toasts is a Ceilidh, a series of Scottish dances.
To close the Burns Supper, give thanks to all who attended and participated, and together sing “Auld Lang Syne.”
Cheers to Robert Burns! Please let us know how you plan to celebrate in the comments!
As we think back on 2020, we wanted to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for each of our members and friends of the Society. None of us could have imagined what 2020 had in store for us all. While many of our projects had to be put on hold, we remained true to our mission of Scots helping Scots and used the extraordinary circumstances we were presented with as an opportunity to reset our compass. By refocusing our organizational goals, we were able to accomplish quite a bit, despite the many challenges we all faced. Looking back, we have much to be proud of.
Highlights of our year include:
We made a sizable donation made to Masks for Scotland, assisting their efforts to provide PPE to front-line health care workers.
We contributed to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s appeal for donations for PPE for the Commonwealth’s front-line workers.
Our annual scholarship program went entirely virtual and provided $77,000 to 39 college students of Scottish descent who reside in the New England area.
We assisted in the Save Our Scotland appeal by the National Trust of Scotland and, in the process, arranged an affinity program with the National Trust to offer 15% discounts to National Trust membership for members of the Scots’ Charitable Society.
All of these contributions were in addition to our regular relief activity for Scots in the area in need.
In addition, we moved all of our meetings to virtual platforms, unveiled a new logo, and even managed to celebrate St. Andrew via an interview with a well-known Scottish storyteller, David Campbell, which was then shared with our members.
Reflecting on the year also lends itself to reflecting on traditions and some ways in which we can adapt them for our current situation. Hogmanay, the Scots word for the last day of the year, is typically a time to welcome friends and strangers with warm hospitality into your home. While social distancing prevents us from celebrating in typical fashion this year, many are still gathering virtually.
Since ancient times, households across Scotland have welcomed strangers through their doors with the aim of bringing good fortune for the year ahead. This tradition, called “first footing,” stems from the Gaelic practice of “qualtagh.” Traditionally, the first footer should be someone who was not already in the house when midnight struck – hence a Scottish party tradition of having one guest leave just before the bells so they can knock on the door as the new year begins. They usually come bearing gifts; per tradition, they would arrive loaded with a coin, bread, salt, a lump of coal, and whisky – gifts representing all the things the new year would hopefully bring, such as prosperity, food, warmth and good cheer.
Carrying out this tradition while still being socially distant is possible! Perhaps have a surprise guest drop in on your virtual gathering at midnight. Your virtual first footer could even take advantage of liquor delivery services and have a wee dram delivered to the organizers.
Looking ahead, we are excited to continue our efforts as Scots helping Scots and send our best wishes to you and your families. Happy Hogmanay!
Saint Andrew, the Patron Saint of Scotland, is celebrated today, November 30th. Who is Saint Andrew? He was a Galilean fisherman and one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, believed to have been born between 5AD and 10AD. But, funny enough, despite being Scotland’s Patron Saint, he was never believed to have stepped foot in Scotland!
There are many legends as to why St. Andrew became the Patron Saint of Scotland, but one tale is that in the 9th Century, as King Angus was preparing to battle the English, the king dreamt St. Andrew visited him and promised him victory. On the day of the battle an X, the symbol of St. Andrew, appeared in the sky, assuring King Angus that he would win the battle. This X went on to become a part of the Scottish flag.
Traditionally, St. Andrew’s day is celebrated with a ceilidh and feast, but this year things look a little different for many Scots and those of Scottish descent. Instead, many of us will stay home and prepare a traditional meal, or order one from our favorite Scottish pubs and toast to St. Andrew.
Fan of the Outlander book series? Join Diana Gabaldon and the Northern Celtic Heritage Society for virtual tea on Saturday, October 3rd from 2 PM – 3:30 PM MST. All proceeds will benefit the Northern Arizona Celtic Heritage Society’s scholarship program. To date over $120,000 has been given to individuals and groups within the society to promote, present, and preserve Celtic heritage and culture.
The joint Scholarship Committee of the Scots’ Charitable Society and the Woman’s Auxiliary have concluded their review of candidates for undergraduate scholarships for the academic year 2020 – 2021. We are pleased to announce that scholarships are being awarded to 32 candidates who have sent in completed applications and attended (via Zoom) interviews with the Committee. The total amount given by the two organizations is $82,500. Normally, these awards would be presented at our annual awards ceremony, but unfortunately that ceremony had to be cancelled this year due to the COVID Pandemic. Still, we want to publicly honor those students who have demonstrated scholarship, writing ability, and community service and to wish them well in their future studies.
In addition to “basic” scholarships, the committee is awarding a number of special awards in specific fields: The MacPherson Award for an engineering student, the Lockhart Award for a student athlete, the McCall-Nichol Award for the best essay, the MacLeod Award for a student in the creative or performing arts, and two awards from the Daughters of Scotia’s Victory Lodge to a male and female student in the health field. We are proud to be able to support these students from schools as near as the University of Massachusetts and as far away as Edinburgh University.
Founded in 1657, the Scots’ Charitable Society is the oldest secular charitable organization in the Western Hemisphere, and was originally charged with providing aid to fellow Scots in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who were indigent or in poor health. As the social safety net expanded, the number of such needy Scots and descendants of Scots declined, and the Society changed its primary focus and in 1942 began providing undergraduate scholarships to students of Scottish descent living in the six New England states.
The Woman’s Auxiliary Board of the Scots’ Charitable Society was founded in 1876 to aid in the work of the Scots’ Charitable Society. Originally, its members directed the domestic affairs of the Scots’ Temporary Home located on Camden Street in Boston. The home was established “for the purpose of giving shelter to our needy countrymen, who may be either in distress or perplexity. Where they may remain for a short time before proceeding on their journeyor obtaining situations here.” It is noteworthy that in 1882, the Superintendent of the home was John Quincy Adams II with assistance from his wife, Frances. Like the Scots’ Charitable Society, the organization focused on relief given to women and children of Scottish descent in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; but now the Woman’s Auxiliary provides scholarships to students of Scottish descent in the six New England states.
Both organizations welcome new members intent on continuing the tradition of Scots helping Scots.