What’s 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 wasn’t 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 year’s activities, we plan to be at all the Celtic Festivals in the DC/MD, VA and PA area next year.
I don't have an answer to your first question, but do have one for you: Do you have a website for you Society? I found this, but am not sure that it is yours: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mdmws/Index.htm - many of the links in it don't work.
I do know that many 'searches' for Wesh Societies contain outdated links. I have tried (largely without success) to get several of them updated to reflect the current link for the St Louis area. It is: SDSoGSL - it replaces the others (that I also created a five or six years ago). I suspewct that many of those, as with many societies, have become defunct - as you justly noted.
Now, I'll speculate on that, your initial question:
As we depart further (in time) from the great migration of Welsh people to these shores, so we are left with fewer living Ex-pat souls - those who brought their traditions with them. People of that / those generations may have flocked to Welsh Societies here to hold that spirit of 'Hiraeth'. First-generation Welsh and those with ancestarl ties only, have affinities of a far different nature than the 'Hiraeth' that only an Ex-pat can truly have. Ex-pats of more recent times likely grew up in a more 'global-centric' world, and not the closer 'Welsh community' world one usually associates with the Societies founded here 50 or 100 years or so ago. Choirs were a focal part of that 'Hiraeth' movement and given the nature of (most) Welsh songs sung at time, a church is a natural setting.
I am sure that many Welsh Societies (SDSoGSL for one) have no sectarian connection - though many of their members so align themselves; and those Welsh Societies that have no choir, either within the Society - or in the immediate geographic area - probably have affinities to the other cultural aspects of which you speak. There are many such Groups 'devoted' to such, here, in AmeriCymru (is AC 'radical ?), so NO, I can't conceive that (or 'why') yours would be shunned, frowned upon, or 'receive any grief''. I'd like to think we Welsh are not that narrow-minded.
Please, pursue your 'thing' - and keep us informed of events, etc. Pob lwc!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
In the old days, it was natural for culture to be fostered by religion both in Wales and in America when there was a larger immigration of Welsh to the coal mines and other areas where work was to be had.
Looser morals, lack of physical hardships, disdain for Christianity in both the 20th and 21st century have all contributed to the mess we now see here, and the lack of attraction for younger folk to join St. David's Societies altogether.
What we need is a body of Welsh membership chapters here in America that can overcome this......independent of the St. David's societies fostered by Methodist and Baptist Churches....and the answer, dear readers, is right in front of our noses... coming from this very website iteself as a start.....
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.
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.
Never understood why the National Eisteddfod abolished the wonderful ceremony for our Welsh friends overseas. I will never forget Iona Jones singing 'Unwaith eto 'Nghymru Annwyl' at the 2001 Eisteddfod at Denbigh. Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi gyd yn Vancouver.
i dont know