The Luxembourg Pipe Band kicked off the Friday 27 November celebration. The haunting music had the whole crowd pining for the highlands, whether they hailed from Aberdeen or Strassen.
“I didn’t think the music would get to me so much,” says Alix Rassel, in plaid leggings and looking every bit the strong Scotswoman she is. “It’s trendy now to be Scottish, because of ‘Outlander’.”
Yvonne and Mark Houston are ahead of the trend--they’re Scots and passing that on to their sons, one who is learning the bagpipes. “We found his teacher right here,” says Yvonne, pointing to a giant in a kilt.
She knew Robert Henger hailed from the Grand Duchy and not Ecosse, but was surprised to learn that he only recently took up the pipes. He made up for lost time with hours of daily practice. Students, take note!
The Scottish dancers are also international and even include a lassie from Estonia. “The steps are the same as in Estonia, but the logic is different,” said Mari Väli. She’ll head to St. Andrews this summer to learn more.
Once the dance floor is open to everyone, Sarah Baubion jumps in with expertise. “I spent summers in Scotland,” she says in a French accent. “My mother is Scottish but I was raised in France.” She did not, however, have a British passport--until recently. Ambassador Walpole presided when Sarah finally got proof of what she’s felt all along--“I’m Scottish!” she beams.
Others at the event are married to Scots. Evita from Latvia recently wed Allan Stewart and visited Scotland for the first time. “I understand now why the Scots are so proud,” she said.
Luxembourger Florence Gunn lived with her Scottish husband in Aberdeen for 13 years, but “wanted the kids to learn languages so we just moved back here.” But with her husband still in Scotland, she came to St Andrew’s alone--that’s an ‘aye’ for Scotland all right.
The night of course, belonged to the Scots, those whose family lines go way back before Sir Walter Scott. Like Margaret Ferns, who can trace her family back to William Wallace. Standing besides Mags is Dan Kelly, a Scottish dancer for nearly 20 years. His kilt is “a secret for slimming,” he says. “You have to work to keep fitting into it.” The dancing has to help!
Mags and Dan talk about lineage and traditions. “It’s all a load of romantic nonsense,” says Dan, but looking at them in their plaid, you sense that he doesn't really mean it.
Others had no ties at all, but still came to toast the home of Robbie Burns. Like Estonians Siiri Sutt and Eve Loik, and like Rebecca Steele, from Leeds. “I saw it on Delano’s top ten things to do list,” says Steele, “and I thought I’d come along!”