Yes - just checked them out, and am following on Facebook and Twitter! Thanks!
What’s happening to all the Welsh societies in America??
Thought you might like to see how one Society responded between the 1950s and 1980s:
The (Newcastle and Tyneside) Cymmrodorion has had to respond to changing attitudes and at given times sought to rejuvenate what had become an increasingly moribund institution. In 1950 the committee redrew the Cymmrodorions constitution and emphasised the preservation of the national culture, language and traditions, and particularly the promoting of functions which will stimulate the appreciation of Welsh music, literature and drama.
Yet by 1957 the secretary observed that there was a certain amount of apathy among members. Concern was expressed that the time was coming when the only function to be held would be the annual dinner because the support for the monthly functions was progressively diminishing, while the talent available for attractive functions was limited. However, the Society continued, and nearly a quarter of a century later in 1981 the Secretary reported that the previous year had been a great success, particularly as eleven new members had been recruited which made a tremendous difference to the variety of the meetings. The acceptance that change was essential for the survival of the Cymmrodorion had been embraced and there had been several innovations, including a summer outing meeting, picnics, a Welsh night at Sunderland, and the Presidents various gastronomic adventures helped create a greater sense of fellowship within the Society which now had closer links with other Celtic groups in the region, especially the Caledonian Society.
This comes from a chapter I wrote several years back - with Dr Joan Allen, Newcastle University), '"Competing identities": Irish and Welsh migration and the North-East of England, in A. J. Pollard and A. G. Green (eds), Regional Identities in North-East England 13002000 (Woodford: Boydell and Brewer, 2007), pp. 133160.
So the discussion here is not new, the challenge is how you make the Societies appeal to all. I am discussing this tomorrowat Edinburgh University and this forum is part of my preamble - I just hope it doesn't rain as I have never been there when it has been completely dry! Thank you all for such interesting comments which has made my task so much easier.
I agree about Chicago Tafia. Dave Parry does work hard to promote all things Welsh and makes it fun too. I follow CT on Twitter.
Progressive and conservative, branches or roots, potential or heritage, quick to change or quick to resist change - I think all people are just naturally more one than the other, and it takes both to balance the world. You need to know where you came from, and you need to look where you're going. Neither are wrong or right - they complement one another. That balance takes time.
The Chicago Tafia is a group made up of younger Welsh people. I like their approach.
My daughter has always identified herself among friends, classmates and associates as Welsh. The tradition continues in my granddaughter. My sister, on the other hand, who was reared in the same home as I takes little interest in her Welsh heritage. Go figure...
Tod, It is pronounced RYE-o Grand by the way.
Its Welsh founders chose that name only after having several previous applications rejected by the State of Ohio saying their submission was already "taken." Exasperated, someone said they had seen a newspaper headline with the "Rio Grande" in it and said, "Surely that name isn't taken?" It wasn't. But no one knew how to pronounce it.
"RYE-o Grand" is also the home of the Bob Evans restaurant chain and the Evans farm which started it all.
Wow - I'm not sure why I hadn't stumble across this discussion before, but I'm glad I have. I'm not sure how one defines "younger" in this context, but at 46, I feel "younger". In my church, I tend to be grouped (both by myself, and by others) as more of a young adult than my age will technically support - mostly from the fact that I share a lot of cultural identity with the current 20- and 30-somethings. I have searched extensively for local Welsh societies as well, and have also been discouraged. I think there is an interest, although I think there is currently a more progressive atmosphere (not necessarily a bad thing in itself) which tends to minimize interest in traditional cultures, heritage and history. As has already been mentioned, these things ebb and flow.
At this point, AmeriCymru IS my link to Welsh culture (or pre-Welsh, or pan-Welsh), and through it I am really trying to understand what the Cymru perceive to actually BE their culture and heritage. I have been encourage by my recent discovery of a fairly local group that I hope to become involved with, but for the most part, I expect my time on this site, along with my own research, to define for me what it means to be Welsh. Let me repeat that - I am looking to this site to DEFINE what it means to be Welsh. And that is coming from someone who has had an interest in mythology, genealogy and history since boyhood. I know it's already been said, but let me confirm that there is NO well-defined image of what it means to be Welsh in America. What I'm finding, I'm loving, but as of yet, I simply don't have my arms around it. Again, paraphrasing earlier comments - The Irish have Saint Patrick and Leprechauns, the Scotts Kilts and Bagpipes. Welsh have - ? I'll be perfectly honest - and please don't hate on me for it, because I have found so much more now than I knew previously. But in honesty, a few years ago I would have said that the only image or concept that would have been associated with Wales would maybe have been COAL. NOT exactly stuff to stir the imagination.
And I think even here (and I may be wrong, but I'll go with my intuition, and just throw this out there), there seems to be an underlying dark thread, possibly coming from political oppression or cultural marginalization or I don't know what else, which I don't see as much of in other Celtic contexts, although there has been oppression and marginalization there as well. Please understand - I'm not criticizing - just observing. I think as long as that element is there (provided of course that I'm not the only one sensing it), it will hinder interest and participation.
There. Now you have the ramblings of a "young" American who IS interested, and would truly like to see a flowering of Cymraeg-ery! Take it for what it's worth!
I hope this is the right place to send my opinion. I was with a Welsh Group in Santa Barbara for nearly ten
years. It was started by a lady from North Wales whose first language was Welsh. It seemed to those North
Walians that was all that was important. When this lady left the group and I took over the program planning,
one of my ideas was to present all of the areas where Welsh people have excelled. For an example, those
North people never talked about the Welsh National Opera and it's productions. They wanted nothing to do with dance, gave no hint as to how to pronounce Welsh words, they were happy to talk among themselves and to add how "pure" was N. Wales because they spoke Welsh. In other words no warm welcome was given to newcomers. We cannot be that this in this multiculture country. I would appreciate
some reply from you and your opinion....................................Shanne Cano
(Oh! That's my password...)
I'm posting this1 1/2weeks before the 2013 Viking event mentioned in my original post. The local Welsh grouphas decided to attend this year, and did so "on their own" in spite of my earlier suggestions. I have already served notice that I am setting up a seperate display and having a "hands off" attitude towards their heritage booth.
Also told them I'm gong to come down on the group for every error they make over the weekend in their efforts tolure potential "young" members to the group. I see my stand as "Tough Love".
Iattended the group's board meeting to explain the festival and took the time to mention some of the questions that I have been asked in the past. When I mentioned people were interested in finding their family's "home" on the map one board member jumped in with, "...we can show them that but if they ask the route their family took to get here, we are NOT researchers and can't give them an answer. We are not prepared!"
In other words she might as will stated "We don't want anything to do with those people." A good example of "what is happening" to Cymreig heritage groups in North America. Oh, might as will add that the mentione board member is a retired librarian...
I doubt if the groupeven thinks to bring a map. Assming thatany member representing the group at this festivaleven owns one.
I'll have at least ten maps with me even though I am only putting up a display of the eight primary flags representing the Celtic people in a circle around a four foot tall fiberglass "rock". (Title of the display: "A Celtic Gathering".)
Will the group bring their own flags? I am bracing myself for " We can find one but no one remembers where the other might be. That was the excuse heard at the last St. David's Day banquet I bothered to attend.
In regards to other local Celtic events:I recently challanged the officers of the Cymreig heritage group to attend a small Scottish "Tartan Day" event so that they no longer had to listen to me say "Other non-Irish Celtic heritage groups have events worth attending because of the acdtivity". One former officer did attend. That was last Saturday so I have yet to her the effect her report to our group's Board of Directors.
Two weeks after the Viking event there will be a smallevent titled "A Celtic Gathering"held at the fairgrounds in Lancaster, OH at which the local Cymieg heritage group may or may not have a booth. Last I heard was the officers of the group, whofor the most part are the youngest members ofour group, will be attendinga "Beltane" event in Northern Ohio.
In my mind people who wish toHOLD an office in a heritage group SHOULD attend functions where their group will be represented and set aside their personal desire to "go someplace that is fun".Our heritage group does not have a display at the Beltane. What I hear being said is out of one side of the mouth they agree that there is a need for younger members in our heritage group, but out of the other side of their mouth, "I'm not going to attend even though I sought and obtained office within the heritage group and therefore SHOULD be leading the drive for new, youger members."
Blah, blah, blah, etc., etc., etc.
I've been told the Cymreig "DO NOT" complain, but, they DO tend to air their upmost dislikes. So what's my problem? Simple,I represent three Cymreig families, but my dad's mother was frm Germany, therefore I complain.
I think Ceri and gaabi have hit on the right idea for "these times in which we live." A Welsh "social network" cannot replace individual societies but it can connect and unite them while offering daily contact with other like-minded individuals.
I am currently researching Welsh Societies and associational activity and have published on the Welsh Society of Philadelphia and the Cymmrodorion in Newcastle and Tyneside. My findings have revealed that enthusiasm for Welsh society activities tends to ebb and flow. There are always discussions about reinvigoration and appealing to younger members, but I think the main fact is that there are so many other distractions available now and this tends to pull againstthe societies. The only answer is to be proactive and to promote yourselves as widely as possible, make the society comfortable for young and old (and those in between) and, above all, relevant. Associational activities and affiliations in this respect need to be nurtured and I wish you all well in your efforts.
I am so glad that you asked this question. During the time I was working, in LA, I would get up at 4a.m. to go to work in a hospital in West LA. Then
about 6 time a year I would drive 2.5 hours to get to Santa Barbara with my prepared programme for the Welsh Society . I wrote a few songs for them, we started some very basic language songs, I prepared some history and explanations of the Mabinogion AND I wrote a nrewletter
4 times a year. I refused to take care of the tea or milk. When I became ill and had to give up, I could find no-one to take care of the tea pots and of course no one took over the club.
One thing I will tell you is that no one brought their daughters to join the club. With this kind of apathy, what can you expect??? Shanne Cano
Sad to hear of the demise of some of the Welsh Societies over there. I happen to play in a Welsh Folk band called Jac y Do (name taken from Jackdaw) and we are quite busy here in South Wales. We have released 4 CDs of traditional and original music. Not Choir music but up tempo folk/rock! Two fiddlers, two guitars, banjo,bass,keys and drumsWe also specialise in holding a "Twmpath" which is a Welsh folk dancing evening. We perform at Weddings and Birthday parties and have performed on numerous ocassions in the National Eisteddfod. We have performed in Mineapolis in the shopping mall there a few years agowith the Welsh Tourist Board where Wales was "put on show" so to speak. We have also performed in Toronto in the Welsh caravan festival where we won theBand of the Festival award. We've also played in Spain, Hungary, France, Brittany, Ireland and Belgium in major festivals.
Good luck with your work over there Doug. Hope you can get those Welsh Societies moving again. All the very best.
Understandable. Most people living in the United States seeking help in regards to their Cymreig connections, especiallythose living in the state of Ohio, are not aware of theUniversity of Rio Grande's non-US charter. It is no secret, articles on URG appear in newspapersnow and then.
I am aware of that I, by nature, tend to "hold back" on detail. I do iton purpose.
Excuse: I am involved with several local historical societies and during my presentations I employ the the "plant the seed" tactics in order to encourage those who have a real interest in the presented subjct to do some light research on their own.
I wasn't taught to do so, "it" was in me when I walked in the door.
Why: Telling someone what they should be thinking leads directly to the attitude we see today in regards to heritage societies.
Partial explaination: We Americans of the Baby Boomer generation, when told to do somthing by our elders, would ask "Why?" We were told "because that is the way is is done", or "Because I said so". Looking back there is no question in my mind that our elders DID NOT have an answer, but they hadbeen deprived of many things as they grew up.
That lead tothe typical Baby Boomer's general disinterest inheritage societies and other activities which we associated withour elders.We were determined togrow up in our elder's image.
In some areas that attitude did work, but in other areas it did not. At some point we Baby Boomers replaced theterm "ask" withthe term "challange".
I blame my generation and the Depression Generation for Generation "X's" unwilling to listen to anyone.
However, andI have stated this before, Generation "Y" is asking questions but they have no guides helplead them to the answers they seek.
I also stated before that the real reasonCymreig heritage societies are failing can be seen by looking into amirror.
Okay, now I get the references to the University of Rio Grande. I was wholly ignorant of the Madog Center for Welsh Studies but then I do not live in the USA! It was all a bit cryptic before.
Doug, it looks like you may have identified a niche that hasn't been addressed. Personally, I won't be upset if you don't concentrate on choral singing and church services. Do you have a working website yet?
Quote "I was embarrassed when I told her to look in the direction I was pointing, the University of Rio Grande's library was less then fifty yards from where we were standing. I really wanted to ask her if she had any idea what makes Rio Grande "different" then other universities in the United States!"
Well I guess I'm stupid because I have no Idea what you mean.
Ok the internet can only help but it needs info.
Did anyone read what I said!
Please address my points.
I don't think the problem is the internet, mobile society (most of us are in America because our pre-internet ancestors mobilated here), religion, or lack of it. IMO, a very large part of it is the image; another part, which might come across badly, is that European-rooted societies are perceived as being top dogs, not underdogs, so, therefore, their culture is not as at-risk as other, non-European, cultures. Another problem is that people think of Wales, as Roger said, as part of England and, therefore, English, not a separate culture or language, to be celebrated in their own right.
Image is everything. Image sells. So, we're the descendants of those western English, and the language is a dialect of English. The Irish were able to sway image through the difference in religion between England and the larger part of Ireland. The Irish publicized that they were persecuted for their minority beliefs, gaining sympathy. The Irish also have fun with their holidays - Christmas in Kilarney, St. Patrick's Day and green beer. On March 17, everybody's Irish, and proud of it. The Scottish have kilts, highlands, bagpipes, Braveheart, and Nessie and are, again, underdogs to the obviously culturally different English. OTOH, here sits Wales, aka "western England," only a tad bit more different from actual English than Cornwall. Anybody out there standing up for Cornish anything besides pasties?
And, add in historic politics. Those blue books, squelching the language, being "England's oldest colony," and having a nice place for people to retire, and you have a population of native Welsh trying more to belong to England than to be Wales and Welsh.
And, language. It doesn't help, in this day and age, when everything must be defnyddiol, useful , that this perception about Wales being an integrated part of England, linguistically and culturally, is out there, or that Welsh is "a dead language", meddan nhw, so they say . Why waste your time learning a dead language? (If you want to do that, learn one that's actually useful, like, oh, say, Latin. /sarcasm.) My nearest and dearest, whom I love to death, insist that Welsh is incidental to the real world, the language is nice if you want a hobby, but if you want to get ahead, learn Spanish, or German, or French.
The problem seems, to me, to change those perceptions on the broader scale, to make pride in one's ancestry into, well, something to be proud of, to make it okay to learn Welsh, or anything else, for the sheer joy of learning, not for what it can do for you.
And, for the mobile society, with geotagging just a click on the phone, get together. If you belong to AmeriCymru, and you're in a strange city, PM another member and have an impromptu meet. Or, set it up beforehand, to fit around both schedules.
IMO, you don't need regular meetings, or if you do, make them fun. Meet for coffee or for a night out playing pool or tennis or whatever. Have a Parents With Kids afternoon. You don't have to sit in a stuffy old meeting hall listening to boring speakers and planning the next Jumbo White Elephant Sale. Make activities for all age groups, and meet outside of the hall. I think we've had enough examples of members either energizing or killing off a group, mentioned here. I think it's true.
Not trying to start an argument (Celtic people never disagree, LOL!). Maybe I didn't read into your statement what you meant.
But yes, I do see the internet as a problem in general with the younger people. Without question the internet does provide the greatest access to information (both good and bad) that mankind has ever seen, IF the internet is used to find information.
Is "social networking" as it actually occurs on the internet actually SOCIAL NETWORKING? "I'm sitiing at a computer in the library typing this, in a few minutes I am leaving for an appointment.....etc., etc. I could have used the time spent searching for answers!
But the "Problem" is not limited to the internet and that was the reason I mentioned the young woman asking me where to start looking for information when we were within a physical stone's throw of the University of Rio Grande library. And no, she did not realize we were standing in the center of "The University of Rio Grande"!
How many people in the United States are aware of that university's purpose as stated in its charter? (Purpose: To provide an education to those who migrated from the home country which would help them meet the new challenges they would face in this country.)
I will argue that simply joining an interest special interest group is not the same as joining an actual group of people with a common interest. Cyber communications lacks the awareness of what is taking place around us while we are communicating with another via the internet.
Example: One of my biggest problems is that when I am on the internet I start on one topic but am thinking of many related bits and pieces that relate directly to what I am saying. Can't put it all down on cyber paper at the same time unless the "listener" has the time and ability to hyperlink my "extra" thoughts to obtain the full meaning behind what I have stated.
Physically meeting with others and willingly admitting to others that you are of Cymreig heritage is a major part of the problem "lack of interest" in my home area. Just too many older people are letting that "social slur" stop them from letting themselves be known to others of like mind and purpose and it has carried over to the younger set.
If the "Irish" can walk up to someone and "let it be known"... well, that's a bit unlike our people but at least we shouldn't be afraid of our ancestry. RCR
(Got to leave for an appointment....)
I disagree on the internet and "individual mobility" asbeing a problem. The problem, at least in Central Ohio, predates the internet. If the internet helped create the problem then why isn't the internet being used by the younger generations to find theinformation and organizations that could provide the solution?
But then again and along the same lines, I remember taking part inone of the last Celtic festivals held on the grounds of the University of Rio Grande. I was standing insideone of the buildings that sits along the campus oval watching the activities through the building's all glass front wall.
A young woman, perhaps in her late 20's, had noticed that I had been talking to a guy, showing him maps, etc. and that must have given her the idea that I was "was an information booth". She approached and asked if I could suggest where she could reasearch her Cymreig connections and the history of our people.
I was embarassed when I told her to look in the direction I was pointing, the University of Rio Grande's library was less then fifty yards from where we were standing. I really wanted to ask her if she had any idea what makes Rio Grande "different" then other universities in the United States!
I don't think its generational per say. Quoting from my first post " most of the Welsh groups seemed to be tied to a church, and there activities were focused on Choir singing. Yes, we know that seems to be a big thing is Welsh culture. Not that we had anything against that, but it just wasnt out thing. We were more interested in the other things of Welsh culture, food, drink, dancing, and prechristian history. " The reason the Irish Celts, and the Scottish Celts are doing so well now is that they celebrate the defiant warrior, the poetry of love dance and song, and the camaraderie of the drink. There is nothing churchey or religious hinted at in these groups (at least in America). And most folks here in America tend to be turned off when when it is brought into there personal time (and happens not to be in there tradition of worship).
What we want to do is to create a society that is uniquely Welsh but is devoid of anything religious. In the prechristian era the Welsh were the fieriest warriors more so than the Scots or Irish combined. There mythology, and music is rich there dance unique.
The problem is, we are Americans and really don't know that much about Welsh traditions. We need help in developing literately everything. We know we are of Welsh decent, we know we are Celtic, we admire the notoriety on the Scots, and Irish but want to be identified as Welsh Celts.
First of all, let me congratulate you on starting up a new Welsh society. In general, it's been my experience that a lot of cultural groups have been going through a rough patch the last few years. In our local group in the Capital Region of NY, we starting seeing a decline in attendance and membership about 7 years ago - and it didn't matter what we did (we did twmpath dances, movie days, etc.). Now we're back down to our two staples, the Gymanfa (yes, more hymn sining) and our annual dinner. Something that has never flagged over the years is our Welsh language class (which I teach). I basically do it under the auspices of the society, but not all the students necessarily join, or have an interest in joining. I think part of the problem is selling 21st century people a 19th century idea. It's too bad because a lot of fun and good can come out a group like this. When we were going gang-busters back in the late 90's and the first few years of the 2000's, we had monthly programs at which we normally got 20-30 people, and our membership had risen to around 150 people. Now we have maybe 60 or so members, and if 20 people show up to anything, we're happy!
Having Cymreig blood I realize that (sometimes) I SHOULD NOT speak up.
"Our people are not expected to, we know our place" I was once told by an aunt. I responded with, "According to whom,the English?"
Please do not tell me that I am "Irish" when I happen to mention I have Celtic blood. That leads to my teaching you about the "Brythonic" Celts and the divisions within that grouping.
You can guess how I react when some uninformed perosn tells me that I am "English" because "Wales" is a PART of England....
A thousand diolchs for posting Roger. An excellent and I think largely accurate analysis. Wales has moved on since the 30's ( which an essentially grim period of our history anyway ) and no amount of 'purist' nostalgia is going to bring it back. This is one of the main reasons that we started AmeriCymru 4 years ago. When you bump into people who are keen to discover their Welsh roots please refer them to us. We need new members and we need to completely reinvent Wales image in the USA imho.
Once again...diolch for posting
Situation here in Central Ohio follows the trend I have been noticing in other heritage groups. Example: A crew member of a replicia viking shiptold me that they hadbeen invited to dispalay their ship at aDanish gatheringin Wisconsin . The invitation included thesociety's banquet on Saturday. Upon arrivial at the banquetthe ship's crew were told that they would be sitting at the "children's table". The youngest "child" at the table was in the mid-60's!
The "Welsh" group here in my area seemingly has an average age of "late 60's early 70" in regards to activities (there are some "youngsters" in their 40's that act as if they were 60-70). The first time I took part in one of their banquests I walked into the hall and did not believe what I was seeing. I recall saying to myself, "I've never seen so many grey haired men and blue haired women gathering in one spot." My second thought was along the lines of, "Are these people even breathing?"
The group dates back many decades, it was formed as a "Welsh" singing group that later became a "heritage" group. However, the primary people/leaders were those born in time to have experienced the Great Depression and "do without" era of WW II. They seemingly grew older without having anything of their own and when they inherited leadership of the organization they chose t disobey the rules of organization: Bring younger people into the group and teach them how to be the next generation of leaders.
My generation, the "Baby Boomers" were denied the education that would allow us to take over seamlessly when it should have been the right time. as a result the group stopped progressing (in this case the day after the end of the North American "Welsh" gathering that they had hosted. Those who had lead before the event dropped out, those who took over could be thought as those who want to believe that Cymru was still living in the era of horse and dog carts, nothing in the old country had changed.
And to insure the group would not change they engauged in the act of chasing away any potential member who acted or thought "young", Now the group has aged to the point that gatherings are scheduled so that "people didn't have to drive home in the dark", the so-called entertainment amounts to "Welsh" tenors who are members of the officers of the society (and there is the question as to the amount those people are being paid since they have no hotel costs, they stay at their cousin's house, etc.)
I tried to get the group to listen to the recordings of Pigyn Clust and Carreg Llfar, but they refused because the those groups played upbeat which "ruined the traditional songs". I tried to get the group to have a booth at a local "Viking Re-enactment" festival. "No, we are not going to tarnish our image by being seen with "Vikings". Without the group's support I set up a Cymreig ("Welsh" if you insist) heritage booth, after all our people were "involved" with the Norse and Norse-Irish. Within ten hours I had been approached thirty times by people wanting to see (on the map) where their relitives were born as well as asking where to start when they researched their Cymreig heritage/history.
One young couple aproached the booth and the female starts talking to me in what I, with limited experience, perfect Cyreag. From what I could translate, due to the speed of delivery, she had spent several years living and attending school within Cymru with relitives. And one of the first questions she asked, in English, "...where are all the Welsh heritage societies serving Central Ohio?"
No, I didn't mention the group in which I hold membership. I figured, why should I turn this much desired potential society member into an "old, spritless woman?"
At so-called Celtic meets held in Dayton and down in Cincy I find myself being approached by youg people (late 20's and early 30's asking for information on where to start answering their questions in regards to their family's heritage. And they did so right in front of the group of "older people" manning the "Welsh" heritage booth I was standing in front of. When the "older people" came out of the booth and tried to get in on the conversation the youger people moved physically to blocked them out.
Doesn't take much to come up with an honest answer as to why the "Welsh" heritage groups are failing in the U.S. The Depression era people gained control but refused to train the Baby Boomers to take over when the time came. Generation "X" does not trst Depression and Baby Boomer era people, leaving Generation "Y" to "carry the colors" without the help of training from the older generations.
So what is the problem that we must overcome? I suggest we look in a mirror..;.
(On a timed computer and didn't get to go back over this, sorry)
I agree with you on the decline of the churches they where the hub of town and village life.The churches never modernised and kept to themself, so the societies went the same way.Wales has been going through a change over the last decade a change for the worse people moving into towns and villages who are not welsh on their retirement making welsh way of life redundant being a postman I saw the decline houses empty most of the year,the youngsters unable to buy housing and having to leave Wales to look elsewhere for work and a home Wales needs revival Another Evan Roberts
Never understood why the National Eisteddfodabolished the wonderfulceremony forour Welshfriends overseas.I will never forget Iona Jonessinging 'Unwaith eto 'Nghymru Annwyl' at the 2001 Eisteddfodat Denbigh.Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi gyd yn Vancouver.
Our society in Vancouver, Canada has existed for over a century. We have the benefit and also the responsibility of maintenance (!) of our own Hall, the Cambrian Hall, built in 1929. Four of our members have been chosen as Leaders of the Overseas Welsh at the National Eisteddfod and one of our current members has served as president of the NAGGA. The North American Festival of Wales was held in a Vancouver suburb, Richmond in 2003 and many of our members journeyed to Portland for the 2010 Festival. From time to time one of our members submits articles to Ninnau and I myself to Yr Enfys. In short, we maintain ties both with the Old World and the New. We have spun off two choirs, the Vancouver Welsh Mens Choir and the Vancouver Orpheus Choir and also the Dylan Thomas Circle. We hold a bilingual Church Service once a month but the Sermon is replaced by a Sgwrs - a talk about some topic of Welsh interest - for example I gave a talk on Owen Morgan Edwards. So we sing the hymns and read from the Bible but our beliefs are not dogmatic.
My younger son set up our website some years ago at www.welshsociety.com where you can view my newsletters for the past few years to read about our events and other items of cultural interest.
If you send me your email, I'll let you know when the January issue is on the website.
We celebrate St. Dwynwen in the belief that chocolates and love poetry and love songs are preferable to haggis! And we had lots of fun celebrating the marriage of Will and Kate. We have a Welsh Speaking group and a Welsh Learners.....
Nevertheless, the hardworking volunteers who are the mainstay of the Society are aging so we have to hope that the next generation will take over.
There are some Welsh societies or groups on FaceBook and Twitter. The problem may be that people don't think of doing a search for Welsh groups at those sites. It's diametrically opposed to the traditional idea of Welsh societies.
Myself, I'm looking for a southern, east-coast, somewhat close, group that puts on a Gymanfa. I'm Athiest, but I love the singing.
I have no idea why younger people these days don't want to contiue with the link. It really gets me down, sometimes. My kids and grandkids don't seem to care about the connection. I've run out of ideas to get them interested.
Welsh societies in the UK seem to be on the wain as well. I sing with the Fron Male Voice Choir and we are doing less and less concerts for Welsh Societies. Now this could be the increased cost of putting on a concert but it could be a drop in membership or the individuals prepared to take the responsibility of organising such events.
Perhaps AmeriCymru should allow Welsh Societies to set up groups similar to Facebook or perhaps the possibility is already there. It would be a good place to resurrect a society but the Internet cannot be only method of communication. We have a membership of 70 they actively turn up to practices twice a week and are pretty reliable at attending concerts. Over three quarters have email but most fail to check out their emails on a regular bases and hardly ever send emails.
Within Wales there is a decline in numbers in choirs,and people attending churches and chapels this is probably as a result of the many distractions that modern life provides. TV, the Internet, games consoles and going out drinking are of more interest to today's youngsters.
Any society that wants to create a page/group etc on AmeriCymru is more than welcome to do so. We will actively assist with design/promotion etc and help ( where we can ) to find new members.
Could the church ties be partially influenced by the Welsh religious revival of a century ago? A lot of societies got ex-pats from that era.
I found a DC welsh society http://washingtondcwelsh.org/ and dont' see anything "churchy" on there but I know what you mean. Wales is the least religious country in Europe but a lot of Welsh societies here are tied to churches. From things I've read here and other places I think that's because the Welsh churches in the US were the centers of the Welsh communities and also there were a lot of Welsh Quakers and Methodists that came here in the 19th century. I'm curious about the other Welsh communities that must have been here, in the coal and steel industries like the Tredeger Iron works in Virginia and what happened to them.
I'm pretty sure Morris dancing is English but I have heard of Welsh folk dance.
Let's hope Wales's success in the Rugby World Cup will help matters. I don't think you'll get any grief from Wales itself; Wales is not just about the church/chapel (probably a declining influence in any case) and choirs although singing in general is still very much a part of our DNA.
Welsh people have played an enormously important role in the history of the USA, from those who were involved in its inception to those who worked hard to set up businesses, farms etc. The vast majority of people possibly don't know about these things. I was saying only yesterday that a great many of my mother's American relatives didn't realise that they were descended from Welsh immigrants until a member of the family in Wales arranged a huge party in Carmarthen to celebrate their connection. Since then, there's been an enormous amount of enthusiasm for Wales and a willingness to learn about it.
Events like the West Coast Eisteddfod can help to get the message across and a new-style society like your own is a very good step forward, in my view.
Get cooking those Welsh recipes, do some clog dancing and inform your fellow Welsh-Americans about pre-Roman Britain.
Whats happening to all the Welsh societies in America?? After attending a number of Celtic festivals, all within 100 mi of Washington D.C. A small group of us (with Welsh backgrounds) noticed an almost lack of Welsh supporters. So we decided it might be worth wile to form a local (to Frederick MD) Welsh Society. We started doing some research to identify what was out there, and what we found was that a lot of the web links for groups near us were dead and the groups were gone. So with the thought of, why not, we chartered our group state wide, and became the Maryland Welsh Society. The second thing we noticed in our research was that most of the Welsh groups seemed to be tied to a church, and there activities were focused on Choir singing. Yes, we know that seems to be a big thing is Welsh culture. Not that we had anything against that, but it just wasnt out thing. We were more interested in the other things of Welsh culture, Food, drink, dancing (Morris), and pre Christian history.
My question is since this seems to be a radical departure from the typical Welsh Society in America, are we going to be receiving grief from the rest of the Welsh society (here in America and in Wales itself).
Were still developing our web site, and planning next years activities, we plan to be at all the Celtic Festivals in the DC/MD, VA and PA area next year.
updated by @doug-zimmerman: 11/11/15 10:37:54PM