St. Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland and his feast day is on November 30th, giving Scotsmen (and women) the world over another excuse to celebrate. St. Andrew's Day is mainly celebrated north of the Border and by Scots living outside of Scotland, and "St. Andrew's Societies" flourish. The Saint's Day is usually a celebration of general Scottishness with traditional food, music (especially bagpipes) and dancing, and of course good Scotch.

In Scotland, and many countries with Scottish connections, St Andrew's Day is marked with a celebration of Scottish culture with traditional scottish food, music and dance. In Scotland, there is a week of celebrations, concentrating on musical entertainment and traditional ceilidh dancing. Scots and those of Scottish descent were pivotal in the development of modern America. In turn, Americans today are playing a key role in the economic and cultural development of Scotland and those bonds which were made long ago

When the guests settle down each year at the Saint Andrew's Day dinner (the highlight of the year in Scottish America), it would be fitting for them to remember how far the two nations have come - and how the close communications and co-operation between our cities either side of the Atlantic will continue long into the future. With over 50 million people around the globe claiming Scottish descent, not to mention current Scottish nationals currently living and working abroad, it's little wonder that St. Andrew's Day celebrations extend beyond Scotland's borders.

The cross on which St. Andrew was crucified, has been adopted as the national flag of Scotland, later incorporated into the Union Flag. One old legend says that in 832 AD, an army of Scots led by King Angus was facing an army from the kingdom of Northumbria under Athelstan. The Scottish king prayed to St Andrew for help, and the saltire of St Andrew (the diagonal cross) appeared above them against the background of a clear blue sky. This encouraged the Scots and the battle was duly fought and won, and the saltire is now the national flag (reputedly the oldest national flag in Europe.)

Annually, the Houston Grampian Association celebrates St. Andrew's Day and over the years, it has frequently been with a Gala dinner, and more recently in the form of a casual ceilidh with fellowship, refreshments and a coming-together of people in Houston who share Scottish roots or a strong interest in the business or cultural activities which are shared here and in Scotland. A Scottish Pub Quiz has become popular with our group and brings lots of laughter and enlightenment.

2010 St. Andrews Day Pub Quiz




Thanks to all who attended our St. Andrews Pub Quiz at the Black Lab and helped to make the evening a great success! We had a wonderful turnout, and 6 teams competed for the honor of being crowned Quiz Champions. Marianne Duffin's all Ladies team team won by a narrow two point margin over runner-up Rebecca Roberts/Ross Davidson's team. John Lee's team came in third! Carol Decker invited along a newcomer to Houston, Aberdonian Barbara Jensen of Banford Consulting - and we have a new member - Welcome Barbara!

Did you know which two US Presidents were born in Texas and the name of the largest man made hole in Europe? Then you should have been there!! Mark the date in your diary for next year...30th November...Black Lab. We'll be there...will you??

As we enjoyed the evening, following the delectible food served by the Black Lab staff, our teams got into our fierce competition to find out just who really knew the most about Scotland and the U.S. Our Quizmaster made sure that the questions posed to the teams were tough but fair, and the teams were comprised of members, some of whom knew a lot and some of whom . . . not so much. Below are photos taken during the delightful evening.





2007 St. Andrews Day Pub Quiz

We celebrated at the Black Lab Pub in Houston and in addition to members of the Houston Grampian Association, were graced with a number of visitors and guests, such as Lee Kennedy, International Sales Manager for NSL America and Magne Ostby, President of Cormon, Inc., who joined with us to celebrate this singular special day in Scottish history. An early arrival was Ronnie McNabb, a Galveston native who works social projects for LULAC and who came to connect with his Scottish roots and the other folks who shared them. We even had a visit from Santa Claus, aka Ken Sorrels, Chieftan of the Heather and Thistle Society of Houston. He is shown here with Marti McWhirter by the Christmas tree, enjoying Scottish hospitality.

Our President, Bob Gilbert read a proclamation from the Governor of Texas declaring this the "Day of Scots in Texas" and recognizing the significant contributions of those with Scottish heritage to the success of business and culture in Texas. As we prepared for our members and guests, Aurise Bain and Mary Metz prepared nametags and registration documents along with the help of Bob and Sheila Gilbert and they are pictured here getting our banquet room ready. Below are more preparations as balloons are being inflated by John Fowler, Sheila Gilbert, Jane Fowler and Marti McWhirter to help make the room just right.

Networking and enjoying refreshments were the order of the day, as well as a great meal served by the Black Lab staff who zipped in and out continuously to insure that everyone was duly fed and watered. In the photo below, Carol Decker, Assistant Development Executive for Scottish Development International seems to be getting a chuckle out of the conversation behind her being held by Bob Gilbert, Charles Ellis and Stewart Bain.

A big hit of the event were the door prizes that were given with a drawing, and quite a few of our guests and some members were winners. The fun lasted well into the evening and here are more of our attendees enjoying the hospitality and the fellowship. Pictured below are Helen Mann former Vice Consul for many years at the British Consulate General before retiring, and Alex Kanakis a friend of Helen's who appropriately advised Helen that St. Andrew is also the patron Saint of Athens, Greece . The other ladies in the picture are Marilyn Black and Carol Foy, mother and wife of Brian Foy, not pictured, but at the party. Brian also was Vice Consul, Oil and Gas with the British Consulate before retiring. Late arrivals who joined the party included Kevin and Susan Howard. Kevin is a Director of Houston/Grampian Association and is Chairman of the British American Business Council and Susan is President of British American Foundation Texas.

Two other very special late arrivals were Stuart Holden the son of Brian and Moira Holden, a member of the Board of Directors of Houston/Grampian Association and Stuart's friend Mike Chabala. These two young men have attained celebrity recently as both are members of the National Champion Houston Dynamo soccer team. Pictured is Stuart holding the MLS Cup at the City Hall Rally and needless to say, we are all very proud of him.


In previous years, we have enjoyed formal dinners with highland dress and a ceremony which includes piping in the Haggis, addressing and blessing it, and eating it as the first course of the meal. Shown below are the participants in the 2005 celebration held at the Marriott Westchase Hotel in Houston. The piper is Mr. Lyric Todkill, Pipe Band Director at the world famous, international piping champion St. Thomas Episcopal School, who also was the featured speaker discussing the history of bagpipes, with demonstrations of piping over the centuries. The Haggis is carried by Lyman Matheson, former Chieftan of the Heather & Thistle Society, followed by Bob Gilbert, who addressed and blessed the Haggis, Walter May, carrying the tray of Scotch whiskey and Quin McWhirter, "protector" of the Haggis.

The second photo shows the blessing of the Haggis and pictured from left to right, are Quin McWhirter, Bob Gilbert, Lyman Matheson, Walter May and Lyric Todkill.

Following the excellent dinner featuring broiled salmon, Mr. Todkill discussed the history of piping and played a number of tunes on the bagpipe giving examples of how the pipes have been used over the centuries. He is shown in the photo at the right during his demonstration of how the pipes are played.

After his presentation, Mr. Joshua LaForce, singer, and Mr. Dennis Arrowsmith, accompanist were introduced by Mary Metz, MBE and they performed a variety of songs to entertain us, and were most accomplished in their presentation, which was thoroughly enjoyed by our HGA audience.

On each table were gifts from the Lord Provost and the City of Aberdeen, Scotland for each guest, and gifts were also presented following a drawing, by Mary Metz on behalf of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society.

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