Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr*!
Well, that's 2023 done and dusted! As I read my last message to our members, I was reminded again of our accomplishments in 2022 (legion!) and I'm proud to say we built on that this past year and continue to develop a solid foundation for your Society. Highlights of the year include:
A record high membership (94 in November, over 100 now!)
Record-breaking attendance at our first in-person Burns Supper in 3 years, in a great new venue
Continued collaboration with UNCW for the Second Annual Bagpipe Festival
Sponsored carts and provided volunteers lunch for the Commemoration of the Battle of Moore's Creek
Marched in the St. Patrick's Day Parade
Celebrated our community at Cèilidhs in the spring and fall (in Leland for the first time!)
Partnered with paws4people foundation and others for another successful Port City Highland Games (see article below)
Attended Grandfather Mountain, Scotland County and Crystal Coast Highland Games
Presented programs for a family reunion and Moore's Creek's Scottish Heritage Day
Sponsored the Sunbelt Invitational Piping Competition in Winter Haven, FL
This was an election year for your Officers and Board of Directors, and I am honored to have been re-elected to serve another two years as President. Most of the rest of the Board remains the same, with the exception of Bill MacSorley, who stepped down as Vice President and did not run for re-election. Topher Davis has stepped up to fill the VP position, and Harry Burnett was elected to serve on the Board. Congratulations, everyone! And thank you to Bill, who not only stored our stuff in his garage, but solved engineering problems, too. The Board continues to meet via Zoom (most of the time) on the second Wednesday of the month. The meetings are open to the membership.
The coming year will be another one for the books, I have no doubt. First up is our 31st Annual Burns Supper on January 27 at the Hotel Ballast. See the article on Burns celebrations elsewhere in this issue. In February, we'll continue our collaboration with UNCW on the 3rd Annual Bagpipe Festival. Bill Caudill will be our featured instructor/artist for the workshops and recital again this year. Dan Johnson, Ruth Suhl and I will be presenting a program on the music and dance of the Highlands for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute mid-month. The Commemoration of the Battle of Moore’s Creek rounds out the month as Moore's Creek gets ready to host the first national celebration of the Country's Semiquincentennial (250th) in 2026. There is more information on these events elsewhere in this issue and on our website.
We will also continue our participation in events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and various Highland games, as well as having our own Spring and Fall Cèilidhs. We are also continuing to work with paws4people and Port City Highland Games LLC on producing the Third Annual Port City Highland Games, which continue to grow and gain recognition in the Highland Games world. We have also voted to continue supporting the efforts of the Scottish Outreach Foundation to promote Scottish American heritage through education and the Highland Echoes show presented in Boone during the Grandfather Mountain Games.
Please watch your inbox for an important Member Survey coming soon. This is YOUR Society and we want to be sure we're heading in the right direction. Your participation will help us map out the road ahead for a very vibrant and growing community.
Once again, thank you for your faith and trust in me and the Board. We look forward to serving you in the coming year!
*Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Celebrating Burns Night: A Toast to Scottish Culture and Poetry
As January rolls around, Scots and enthusiasts of Scottish culture eagerly anticipate the annual celebration of Burns Night on January 25th. This traditional event honors Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, and has become a cherished occasion marked by lively festivities, delicious cuisine, and the recitation of Burns' timeless poetry.
The Origins of Burns Night
Burns Night commemorates the birth of Robert Burns on January 25, 1759. Initially an informal gathering among the poet's friends to mark the anniversary of his passing, the tradition has evolved into a widely celebrated event not only in Scotland but around the world. Burns is the only poet whose birthday is celebrated so widely around the world.
The Supper Tradition
The focal point of Burns Night is the Burns Supper, a festive meal featuring traditional Scottish dishes. Haggis, a savory pudding made from sheep's heart, liver, and lungs, mixed with oatmeal, suet, and spices, takes center stage. The haggis is ceremoniously brought into the dining room to the stirring sounds of bagpipes, and the evening kicks off with the "Address to a Haggis," one of Burns' most famous poems. (Please note that the Haggis we serve is not authentic, and meets USDA guidelines.)
Toast to the Lassies and the Reply
A unique and entertaining feature of Burns Night is the "Toast to the Lassies" and the "Reply." Traditionally, a male speaker offers a lighthearted and witty toast to women, celebrating their qualities and contributions. In turn, a female speaker delivers a clever and humorous response. These toasts, while playful, also provide an opportunity to reflect on gender relations and offer insights into the evolving dynamics between men and women. Other toasts are also featured.
No Burns Night celebration is complete without a dram or two of Scotland's renowned whisky. Scotch whisky, with its rich and diverse flavors, is an integral part of the festivities. Participants often engage in whisky tastings, savoring different expressions of this iconic Scottish spirit.
Poetry and Music
At the heart of Burns Night is the celebration of Robert Burns' literary legacy. Participants gather to recite his poems, sing traditional Scottish songs, and immerse themselves in the beauty of Scottish literature. The evening resonates with the soul-stirring tunes of bagpipes and the melodic strains of Scottish folk music.
While Burns Night has deep roots in Scottish tradition, its popularity has transcended borders. People from various cultures embrace the spirit of the occasion, organizing their own Burns Suppers, complete with bagpipes, haggis, and the recitation of Burns' poetry.
Burns Night is a testament to the enduring legacy of Robert Burns and the rich cultural tapestry of Scotland. Whether you're enjoying a traditional supper in the heart of Edinburgh or hosting a celebration in a far-flung corner of the world, the spirit of camaraderie, poetry, and Scottish heritage unites people in a joyous toast to Burns and all things Scottish. As January 25th approaches, let the bagpipes play and the haggis be served, for Burns Night is a celebration that brings people together in a shared appreciation of art, culture, and the enduring legacy of the Bard of Scotland. Slàinte mhath!
Third Annual UNC-W Bagpipe Festival
Presented by Bill Caudill, St. Andrews University Pipe Major
Sponsored by UNCW with help from the Scottish Society of Wilmington
Third Annual UNCW Bagpipe Festival: Recital and Workshop
Sunday, February 5, 2023
1 PM, Novice / Beginner Workshop (practice chanters provided)
2:15 PM, Advanced / Experienced Workshop
3:00 PM , Pre-Recital Bagpipe Demonstration/The Influence of Scottish Music in America
4 PM, Recital with reception to follow, hosted by the SSOW
UNC-Wilmington Cultural Arts Building, 601 South College Road
Recital and Demonstration are free and open to the public
Workshop fees will be posted soon
Online Registration will be available soon
Novice / Beginner and Advanced / Experienced Levels
Limited seating for each level
Contact Dan Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org
248th Commemoration of the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge
Continuing our tradition, SSOW will once again participated in the Commemoration of the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge on February 24-25, 2024. We have the honor of placing a wreath at the Loyalist Monument, in addition to the larger wreath-laying ceremony with many participating organizations such as DAR and SAR Chapters from around the State.
Following the ceremony, we will have an information table in Patriot's Hall. SSOW will also provide lunch for the volunteers and re-enactors. The event features demonstrations and re-enactments of Colonial life, and much more.
Click here for more information from the National Park Service
Click the button on the left to let us know you're coming.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
The Downtown Wilmington St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been recognized as one of the top 10 St. Patrick’s Day parades in America’s small cities. The parade attracts thousands of locals and tourists alike. This year, we'll have a pickup for folks to ride in, so don't let the long walk keep you away! We'll also have puppies from paws4people along to help promote the Port City Highland Games.
The annual fund-raiser, Hooley Under The Bridge, will be held on Saturday, February 24, 12:00 - 6:00 pm at Waterline Brewery.
For more information on the festivities, click here.
To register to march with SSOW, click the button to the left.
From Lithuania to Scotland
Isaac Edward Salkinson
Shakespeare, W., Smolenskin, P., Salkinson, I. Edward. (6341874). Itiʼel ha-Kushi me-Ṿenetsya ʻal pi Sheḳsper. [Vienna]: Ba-defus shel Shpitser ʻeṭ Holtsvorth.
The connection of the Salkind family from Vilna, Lithuania to Edinburgh, Scotland in 1849
By Dr. Edward M. Salkind, CRNA DNAP
I have been a Freemason since 1980 and a Scottish Rite Mason since 1997. In the book “Born in Blood” and in an article in The Scotsman, author Robert Ferguson asserts the connection between the French order of the Knights Templars and the Scots under Robert the Bruce. The Templar Knights were formed by Jacques de Molay and he had a close association with the St. Clairs of Edinburgh, who owned Rosslyn Castle and later built Rosslyn Chapel in 1441. In the Scotsman article, it is also affirmed that when Philip the Fair of France broke up the Templar Knights starting in 1307, and later burned Jacques de Molay at the stake, the majority the Templars fled in their ships, hoisting what we now know as the Jolly Roger. This was actually an early Judeo-Christian symbol of death and rebirth with the coming of the Messiah. It signified the two long bones and the skull needed for resurrection. It stemmed from the custom of burying the dead in stone boxes called ossuaries and placed in a family cave like the rumored family of Jesus.
The Templars, having fled to Scotland, made a deal with Robert the Bruce and were responsible for routing the English at Bannockburn in 1314. In the article, it reiterates The Bruce warning to send King Edward II’s army “haemward tae think again”. The Templars reportedly went underground as the Masonic order in Rosslyn Chapel with many sculpted engravings in the Chapel to affirm its connection.
So, how does this connect me or my family to Edinburgh? In 1980, after being made a new Mason, I was also interested in getting married for the first time in Scotland with my fiancé at the Registrar’s Office. We went to Edinburgh and subsequently saw the Tattoo at the Castle. I visited the Grand Lodge of Scotland in Edinburgh and was permitted to see some of the priceless artifacts of early Scotland up to modern times. The Book of the Lodge with its signatures was halfway open to a page in 1585, proving that the Order predates the accepted date of England’s Grand Lodge in 1723. Scotland’s James VI became James I of England, taking Freemasonry with him to England. His palace in England became known as Scotland Yard.
Back to the Salkinds of Vilna, Lithuania. Solomon Salkind founded the first modern Jewish school in Vilna, in approximately 1843. Solomon’s son, Isaac Edward Salkinson (son of Salkind), set out for America to enter a Jewish seminary but while in London, he met agents of the London Missionary Society, where he converted to Christianity and studied for four years. He was baptized and sent as a missionary to the Jews of Edinburgh, where he became a student at Divinity Hall and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1859. He became a missionary to towns including Pressburg and later ended his travel in Vienna in 1876. He died in Vienna in 1883.
Isaac Salkinson translated many works into Yiddish, including Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “Othello,” as well as Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” the New Testament, and “Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation.”
So, my story is at an end and follows my association with and interest in Scotland from 1980 when I married a McFarland in Edinburgh, and later discovered a family connection with this famous city. My second wife was also Scots-French-Irish, but she passed away recently from a heart condition at 63. In between marriages, I was introduced to the head of the Clan McLeod Society, John McLeod, by a friend who was a deputy sheriff in Burlington County, NJ., and made an honorary member of the Clan McLeod Society of the USA.
Crumbling Richness: A Historical Journey through the Origins of Shortbread
Shortbread Recipe from Coinneach MacLeod,
The Hebridean Baker*
115g soft butter
55g golden caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Pinch of salt
130g plain flour
40g ground rice
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F.
Cream together the butter, sugar, and salt until pale.
Sift in your flour and ground rice and mix until you make a smooth dough.
Cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Lightly roll out the dough to 1cm thickness and cut into biscuits.
Sprinkle over the extra sugar.
Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
Your shortbread pieces should be golden but not browned. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
As a timeless and indulgent treat, shortbread holds a special place in the hearts of pastry enthusiasts around the world. This buttery delicacy, characterized by its rich and crumbly texture, has a fascinating history that weaves through centuries and across borders. Join us on a delightful journey as we explore the origins and evolution of shortbread.
The roots of shortbread can be traced back to medieval Scotland, where it initially emerged as a result of the country's ample supply of butter. With butter being a luxury ingredient, shortbread was initially reserved for special occasions and celebrations. The original shortbread recipe was simple, comprising butter, sugar, and oats.
As trade and commerce expanded in the 17th century, the ingredients for shortbread evolved. Sugar, once an extravagant import, became more widely available, transforming shortbread into a sweetened delight. The addition of refined wheat flour further refined the texture, giving rise to the crumbly consistency we associate with shortbread today.
Shortbread's ascent to popularity received a significant boost in the 19th century when Queen Victoria developed a particular fondness for the delicacy during her visits to Scotland. The royal seal of approval elevated shortbread's status, and it became a sought-after treat among the British aristocracy.
Traditional shortbread was often baked in a round shape and divided into segments known as "petticoat tails" or "fingers." The distinctively patterned edges of shortbread were achieved by pressing the dough with a fork or a decorative mold. This shape not only added visual appeal but also facilitated even baking.
Shortbread became associated with celebratory occasions such as weddings, Christmas, and Hogmanay (Scottish New Year's Eve). The custom of breaking a decorated shortbread over a bride's head became a symbol of good luck, and shortbread cookies shaped like horseshoes or other symbols became popular as tokens of prosperity.
Over time, shortbread transcended its Scottish origins and gained international acclaim. Its simple yet exquisite flavor profile made it a beloved treat in various cultures. The portability and long shelf life of shortbread also contributed to its popularity as a travel snack.
While traditional shortbread recipes continue to be cherished, modern bakers have embraced creativity, introducing variations that include ingredients such as chocolate, citrus, nuts, and spices. These adaptations reflect the evolving tastes of contemporary consumers while preserving the essence of the classic shortbread.
In the annals of culinary history, shortbread emerges as a testament to the artistry of bakers and the enduring appeal of simple, high-quality ingredients. From its humble medieval beginnings in Scotland to its global recognition as a symbol of sweetness and celebration, shortbread has stood the test of time. As we savor the crumbly richness of a perfectly baked piece, we participate in a tradition that spans centuries and continues to bring joy to the hearts and palates of people worldwide.
*Come to the Burns Supper to bid on an autographed copy of Coinneach MacLeod's latest cookbook!
It's an exciting time for your Society and we have lots of great things planned for 2024 and beyond. As these events approach, you will receive a reminder in your inbox. Please come out and get to know your fellow members. As a gentle reminder, a membership application that can be printed and mailed with a check can be found here.