December 2015

In this Issue:

 December Meeting  Haig Scotch Whiskey
 Letter From the Editor  Odds and Sods
 Robert Burns Supper  Society Officers
 Scandanavian Scotland  Coming Events & Celebrations
 December Historical Events Farewell to Two Members
   A Word from our Advertisers

December 10 Meeting - Annual Christmas Party

december 2015 meeting

Until the 15th century, parts of Scotland were inhabited by Vikings and Norse settlers, mainly Norwegians and to a smaller extent other Scandinavians.

To recognize this Nordic influence, our family Christmas party will take on the spirit of a Scandinavian Julbord with meatballs, cold meats, cheese, salads and Mandelmusslor – almond tarts served with jam and whipping cream. Coffee and tea will be available and Rick’s bar will be open too!

Kris Kringle, Joulupukki, Julenissen, Jultomten, Pere Noel, Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus, will have gifts for the children under the age of 10.

Thursday December 10, 2015 - Irish Cultural Center - 6:30 pm
Free to CSA Members, and kids under 10
$5.00 donation for non-members
RSVP by Sunday December 6 to:
with the number of adults, boys under 10, and girls under 10
(Also indicate if you can volunteer to help with this event)
This is a first: we have reservations for the maximum number of guests we can accommodate at the Cultural Center. Sorry, no more reservations accepted.

Letter from Editor, Don Finch

Dear fellow Caledonians,

Although some people love January, because of the Burns Supper; and for some others it’s March, because of the Highland Games; but, let’s face it – there really is something special about December. One of the CSA’s longstanding traditions is the Annual Family Christmas Party and this year, we’re doing something special.

Our chief party planner, Scots-born Wendy Cook, spent some of her formative years in Sweden where traditions of both countries blended together in December. She’s putting together a Scottish-Scandinavian Julbord, which is the Christmas-time name for a smorgasbord.

Look at the announcement in the newsletter for the details, and please come to the ICC’s Great Hall on Thursday December 10th for what will be a wonderful evening for young and old alike.

V.P. Ian Warrander recently collected some great ‘ideas for growth’ from the attendees at our wonderful November meeting. Here’s a few of them:

  • Utilize social media better – a) improve Facebook posting accessibility; b) use Twitter and Instagram; c) develop a CSA smartphone app.
  • Change name of monthly events to ‘Gatherings’. Use ‘Meeting’ for real meetings (Games Comm., Burns Comm., Board meetings, etc)
  • Have at least some of the Gatherings on the weekends – Thursday nights are a problem for many people.
  • Hold Gatherings at key vendors. E.g.; Whisky tastings at Total Wines; Beer tastings at Four Peaks. Open to both members and non-members. Charge for the event, but include a free membership.
  • Promote ‘backyard games’ where athletes are practicing for real competitions, but can win cash prizes to offset their expenses.

There were many other great suggestions and the Board will be mulling them over at our next Meeting.

Don Finch Two final thoughts. Buy your Burns Supper tickets on-line; there’s a new form where you can also let us know who’s in your party and who you’d like to sit with. The second one – in January we’ll be forming a Nominating Committee, so start considering if you’d like to run for one of the Board positions. The Nominating Committee will be announced in the next newsletter.

Merry Christmas! Slainte! DON

Celebrate the Society's 52nd Annual Robbie Burns Supper

Arizona’s Caledonian Society invites you to join their annual Burns Supper which will be held on Saturday January 23rd at the Phoenix Country Club in downtown Phoenix. This is a wonderful opportunity to join with other affecionados of the famous Scot’s poetry to enjoy Highland Dancing, bagpipes, whisky tasting, live entertainment, Scottish Country Dancing, and the chance to take home one or more raffle prizes.

Burns Saltire

The evening begins at 6:00 pm with cocktails on the patio and a demonstration of Highland Dancing. At 7:00 pm, guests are invited to join the Grand March where they’ll follow the Scottish-American Color Guard and members of the Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band into the Ballroom. The festivities continue with the ‘Wee Deoch an’ Doris’ – a tasting of several of Glenmorangie’s™ finest whiskies, followed by several toasts, and then the highlight of the evening, the presentation of the Haggis.

Ready for dinner? Chef Masco will present the guests with a 5 course dinner consisting of Leak & Potato Soup, a Mixed Salad and Dinner Rolls, Steak Pie, Neeps & Tatties, and Mixed Vegetables. The vegetarian option is Scottish Bubbles & Squeak*, Clap Shot* and Pomegranate Glazed Carrots. (*Have fun Google-ing that!) The fifth course is Sticky Toffee Pudding with Whisky Crème Anglaise, followed by tea and coffee. Spell check, spell check….did we leave out ‘the Haggis’? Don’t fret; there will be bowls of Haggis brought to each table with the plated dinners.

Alan Reid & Rob van SanteMusic for the evening will be provided by Alan Reid (left) founding member of Scotland’s celebrated Battlefield Band, accompanied by Rob van Sante (right).

Alan is flying in from Glasgow for this occasion and, will also be presenting the Immortal Memory tribute to our favorite Scottish laddie, young Mr. Burns.

The night continues with more toasts, the reading of Tam O’ Shanter by Gordon Stevenson (who did the Immortal Memory last year), and the distribution of the raffle prizes.

But wait…there’s more! Kick up your heels to the jigs and reels of Scottish Country Dance music until we join arms together and sing Robbie’s greatest hit, Auld Lang Syne.

A full bar will be available, including wine for your table. Tickets are $75.00 p.p. and are available in advance at
For additional information, please contact: Victoria L. Phegley, the 2016 Burns Supper Chair, at 602-526-2313

Formal Evening Attire is encouraged so gentlemen, wear your kilts, tuxedos  or suits and ladies, evening gowns with a tartan sash ‘wid mak' ye th' belle o' th' baw’ .

Scandanavian Scotland

Crossed FlagsScandinavian Scotland refers to the period from the 8th to the 15th centuries during which Vikings and Norse settlers, mainly Norwegians and to a smaller extent other Scandinavians, and their descendents colonized parts of what is now modern Scotland. Viking influence in the area commenced in the late 8th century, and hostility between the Scandinavian Earls of Orkney and the emerging thalassocracy (supremacy over sea or ocean) of the Kingdom of the Isles, the rulers of Ireland, Dál Riata and Alba, and intervention by the crown of Norway were recurring themes.

Norse/Scotland mapScandinavian-held territories included the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland, the Hebrides, the islands of the Firth of Clyde, the Isle of Man and associated mainland territories including Caithness and Sutherland. The historical record is weak and the Irish annals and the later Norse sagas, of which the Orkneyinga Saga is the principal source of information, are sometimes contradictory although modern archaeology is beginning to provide a broader picture of life during this period.

There are various competing theories that have addressed the early colonization process although it is clear that the Northern Isles were the first to be conquered by Vikings and the last to be relinquished by the Norwegian crown. Thorfinn Sigurdsson's rule in the 11th century included expansion well into north mainland Scotland and this may have been the zenith of Scandinavian influence. The obliteration of pre-Norse names in the Hebrides and their replacement with Norse ones was almost total although the emergence of alliances with the native Gaelic speakers produced a powerful Norse-Gael culture that had wide influence in Argyll, Galloway and beyond.

Norse Ship

Scottish influence increased from the 13th century on. In 1231 an unbroken line of Norse earls of Orkney ended and the title was henceforward held by Scots nobles. An ill-fated expedition by Haakon Haakonarson later in that century led to the relinquishing of the islands of the west to the Scottish Crown and in the mid-15th century Orkney and Shetland were also transferred to Scottish rule. The negative view of Viking activities held in popular imagination notwithstanding, Norse expansion may have been a factor in the emergence of the Gaelic kingdom of Alba, the forerunner of modern Scotland, and the trading, political, cultural and religious achievements of the later periods of Norse rule were significant.

Scotland & Scandanavians

Scottish Historical Events in December
by Jo Ramsdell

December 26 - Boxing Day

Few Americans have any inkling there is such a thing as Boxing Day, let alone what the reason might be for a holiday so named.  Boxing Day is celebrated in Scotland, England, Australia, New Zealand and Canada with a bank holiday on December 26 which is also St. Stephen’s Day.

Despite the images suggested by the name, it has nothing to do with pugilistic activities.  Likewise, it does not gain its name from the need to rid the house of excess wrappings and piles of empty boxes left over from St. Nick’s visit.

The best clue to Boxing Day’s origins can be found in the song “Good King Wenceslas.”  According to the carol, Wenceslas, who was the Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, was surveying his land on St. Stephen’s Day when he saw a poor man gathering wood in a snowstorm.  Moved, the King gathered up food and carried it through the blizzard to the peasant’s door.  The alms giving tradition has been closely associated with the Christmas season ever since. 

King Wenceslas didn’t start Boxing Day, but the Church might have. During Advent boxes were placed in churches for seasonal donations to the needy.  The boxes were opened on Christmas Day and the contents distributed by the clergy the following day.  In this case, the “box” in Boxing Day comes from the lockbox the donations were left in.

The holiday’s roots also seem to go back to the practice of giving cash or gifts to those of the lower classes.  Centuries ago members of the merchant class gave boxes of food to tradespeople and servants the day after Christmas in an ancient form of a Yuletide tip.

Boxing Day

Christmas celebrations in the old days entailed bringing everyone together from all over a large estate.  This gathering presented the lord of the manor an opportunity to easily hand out that year’s stipend.  Thus, the day after Christmas when it was time for all to go home, serfs were presented with their annual allotment of practical goods.  Who got what was determined by the status of the worker and his family size.

Today Boxing Day is a national holiday in the UK and Ireland.  It is a time to spend with family and friends, usually those not seen on Christmas Day itself.  In recent times the day has become synonymous with many sports.  Horse racing and fox hunting are popular with meets all over the country.  Many top football (soccer) teams play on Boxing Day.

Haig Scotch Whisky

Haig Scotch WhiskeyHaig, also known as Dimple, and Haig's Pinch, is a brand of Scotch whisky, originally manufactured by John Haig Co Ltd. The brand and its distillery is now part of the Diageo conglomerate.

The dimpled bottle was introduced in the 1890s. This bottle became so well known and important to the brand that it was registered as a trademark in the US in 1958.
The business was originally owned by the Scottish Haig family, whose members included Field Marshal Douglas Haig, famous for commanding the British Army in some of the largest battles of the First World War. The Haig Family was also related through marriage to John Jameson who founded the Jameson Irish Whiskey Company in Dublin in 1780. 

The Haig family business was subsequently merged into the Distillers Company Limited (DCL) and then into the larger conglomerate Diageo.

Haig whisky was one of the first ever commercial Scotch whiskies, and plans were announced in early 2015 for the preservation of the original Haig Whisky Distillery in the Kennetpans near Stirling in Scotland.

Odds and Sods

Viking Treasure1000-year-old Viking treasure found in Scotland

From Reuters News

(read the full article)


IRS officeCharities chafe at IRS proposal to collect donors' Social Security numbers

From Fox News

(read the full article)


Haggis ban?US haggis import ban 'could be lifted' under new rules"

From the BBC.

(read the full article)

Upcoming Events and Celebrations
If you would like your special date recognized in our monthly newsletter, we need to hear from you. Please let us know your correct birthday and anniversary information by email to and it will be included in our Celebration list.

November 30 St. Andrew's Day
December 1 Highland Games Meeting - ICC - 6 PM
December 5 A Piping Weekend - Clinic - Email Len Wood
December 10 Annual Christmas Paty - ICC - 6:30 PM
January 14 Midwinter Wine & Cheese - ICC - 6:30 PM
January 23 Burns Supper - Phoenix Country Club - 6 PM
March 19-20 Our Highland Gathering & Games

Farewell to Two Members - Joe and Diana

Joe Renton and Diana Fogth are bidding the Valley ‘adieu’ and relocating to North Carolina where they’ll continue their jobs with US Foods, but work from their new home.

Joe and Diana

Joe has brought his alter ego, the guy in the red suit from the North Pole, to several of our Christmas Parties, including our upcoming one.

He was in charge of special events such as our participation in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and also served as Master of Ceremonies at the 2015 Robbie Burns Supper.

We thank both Joe and Diana for their service to the Society and wish them well in their new endeavors.

Membership Renewal Reminder

Dues are still only $25 Single and $40 Family. This admits you to all our wonderful monthly events with food and entertainment provided. Join now and your dues will cover the remainder of 2015 and all of 2016

It’s easy to pay by credit card or PayPal, just jump to the Membership Page

Society Meetings
Regular membership meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ. beginning at 6:30 pm. Come join us or log on to

Caledonian Society Officers
President: Don Finch
Immediate Past President: Mark Clark
Past President: (2010 – 2012) Jean Latimer
Vice President & Membership Chair: Ian Warrander
Secretary Vicki Phegley
Treasurer: David McBee
Games Chair
Paul Bell
Trustee 1: Mark Pelletier
Trustee 2: Michelle Crownhart
Trustee 3: Thom von Hapsburg
Newsletter Editor:

Don Finch
Statutory Agent: Dan Miller

A Word from our Advertisers

Kilt Rental USA

Bagpiper USA
Len Wood

Lois Wallace


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