Scotsmen were among the first Britons to settle in Peru at the start of the Republic. They played an important role in the building up of foreign trade here and many of the old British business houses in Lima and Callao owed their origins to Scottish pioneers. The Caledonian Society of Peru was founded in Lima by Mr (later Sir) Arthur Grant Duff, at that time the British Minister in Peru.
The society was formed when he called a meeting at the Phoenix Club on the 29th August 1922. Over thirty members were enrolled. The objectives of the Caledonian Society of Peru, according to the Rules and By-Laws drawn up at the first meeting, are: “To foster Scottish National Sentiment, to promote the study of Scottish History, Literature and Music, and objects of interest to Scotsmen, and to render assistance to Scotsmen and women in deserving cases of poverty.”
The Caledonian Society of Peru continues to promote these values to this day and has always celebrated 30th November, St. Andrew’s Day, in honour of Scotland’s Patron Saint. It also celebrates Burn’s Night in January, in honour of Robert Burns, Scotland’s most famous poet. The Caledonian Society of Peru is run by a local committee who select a Chieftain from their midst. Traditionally the Chieftain was always a kilt wearing man. However, in recent times we have also been graced by female chieftains: Jean Nicoll Laca in 1992, Rosalie Watt in 1995, Kathryn Chisholm Grey 2002 and 2003, Caroline Fraser 2004 and 2005 and this year’s chieftain is Janet Lewis
History of the Annual Caledonian Ball
In 1922, the newly formed Caledonian Society of Peru held their first St Andrew’s Day Dinner in Broggi’s, then a famous restaurant in the Calle Los Plateros de San Agustin, Lima. A comment made in 1934 said that these annual dinners were “the pleasantest, and most brilliant in oratory, of the social functions held during the year.” At first, these dinners were for men only but times changed and in the 1940s women were invited to join them.
Once women were included, the St. Andrews Day Dinner became less orientated around speeches and gradually became known as the Caledonian Ball. It takes place every year on, or around, the 30th November, St. Andrew’s Day, and has been held in the Lima Cricket and Football Club, the Country Club in San Isidro, the Sheraton Hotel in Lima, before ultimately moving to the Swissotel in 2000 where it has been a fixture ever since.
This year the Caledonian Ball will be held on the 28th of November. As normal, it will be a formal occasion with the celebration of all things Scottish: kilts, bagpipes, haggis, poetry, whisky and Scottish country dancing. The haggis will be cooked by some of the Society members to ensure its authenticity.
The bagpipes have always been an integral part of Scottish activities. At one time there was a complete pipe band in Lima but, sadly, this no longer exists. However, with the help of a piper from Chile, the pipes will be played at this year’s Ball. The dancing, which follows the dinner, consists of a variety of Scottish country dances as well as conventional modern and Latin American dancing.
As part of the festivities during the Caledonian Ball, a raffle is held (star prizes including flights and hotels) the proceeds from which are donated to charity. Since the earthquake in Pisco/Chincha in August 2007 we have been giving the proceeds, around S/. 3000.00 each year, to school rebuilding projects there. This year we propose to continue helping these same projects.
Come along and join us. Slaandjivaa (Cheers)
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