Monday, October 29, 2012

The Patron Saint of Scotland - St. Andrew

St. Andrew was from Galilee, a native of Bethsaida and a fisherman by trade. He was a former disciple of John the Baptist and was the one who introduced his brother Peter of Jesus. It is said that he was martyred at Patras in southern Greece on a cross in the form of an “X” on 30th November, A.D. 60. This type of cross is known as the “St. Andrew’s Cross.” The Feast of St. Andrew marks the end of the church year. Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30.

Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Russia and Romania. Tradition says that some of his bones were taken to Scotland and buried under the chapel at St. Andrews that was consecrated by Robert I after Bannockburn.

As Scots moved to American, they began to form organizations which they called St. Andrew Societies, perhaps because of their Patron Saint. The first was Charleston, South Carolina in 1729. Soon major cities along the coast would have societies including New York and Philadelphia. Along the route west, Scots would also find Societies in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

By 1845 a group of Scots in Chicago traveled this western route and knew of the name associated with good works. We don’t know when they started meeting but by November there was a formal structure that included officers. Their first project was to plan and hold a dinner on St. Andrew’s Day. The Lake House was reserved, a menu planed and announcements made. The day fell on Sunday and so the dinner was scheduled for Monday, December 1, 1845. The event was never held on Sunday.

James Murray, Esq. of Buffalo, New York, came to occupy the Chair. He was assisted by two vice-presidents: George Steele and Daniel McElroy. “The Chair was supported by Judge Thomason on the right, and the Rev. Mr. Giles on the left.” They planned nine toasts followed by appropriate music. There were toasts to: “The President of the United States; The Queen of Great Britain; The Memory of George Washington; The Army and Navy of the U.S. and The City of Chicago.” These were followed by some 25 additional toasts and comments. It is unclear what kind of music they had but it may have been a piano. There were no Highland dancers, pipers or haggis. The first piper may have played in 1847. I am not sure when the Haggis was first served.

The Chicago Daily Journal reported on December 6, 1845 that “between 50 and 60 set down to a sumptuous dinner.” The menus is not given. Women did not attend until 1917.

The dinner that started in 1845 continues today after 167 continuous years. The date this year is November 16, 2012. The location is the Hotel Inter-Continental on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, just a few steps from where the original dinner was held in 1845.

Around 450 people will sit down to a sumptuous dinner and there will be a few toasts. Highland dancers will perform and a pipe band will play. It will be “an evening of live Scottish music and dance featuring acclaimed musicians Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas.”

The Dinner Committee consisting of Marcia Bremner, Leslie Gillan, Charles Gonzalez, Calum MacLeod and Emily Patee invite you to celebrate St. Andrew’s Day with them and an evening you will not soon forget.

Learn more and Reserve your space today.

Wayne Rethford, President
Scottish American History Club

Molly McNeal will speak to the Scottish American History Club on November 3, 2012. The meeting will be held in Heritage Hall at the Scottish Home, 2800 Des Plaines Ave., North Riverside (3 blocks from the Brookfield Zoo). She will talk about her stay this summer at an Orphanage in Africa. Lots of pictures! Scones and coffee, free admission. Museum opens at 9 a.m. and the program begins at 10 o’clock. Reservations are helpful. Call 708-408-5591.

Special guests will be Rosie Johnson and Anika Strolle.                   

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