The city of Boston in Massachusetts is typically thought of as a center of Irish American life, but next week it will become a focal point for Saint David's Day events in the United States ranging from the saintly to the strange.
The Boston Cymrodorion Society, active in the area since the heydays of Welsh-American cultural life in the late nineteenth century, is at the heart of a cluster of events at which the Boston Welsh will be celebrating Wales’ patron saint.
From the traditional (a Cymanfa Ganu in Salem) to the modern (Tom Jones is performing in Boston) the ascetic (prayers waist-deep in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean), organisations as diverse as The Gathering (a church in Salem, Massachusetts), the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK Consulate General are involved alongside the Cymrodorion in arranging events.
The Ryder Cup is even making an appearance, to draw Americans to Newport for the golfing contest in 2010.
Pastor Phil Wyman of The Gathering (himself a member of the Boston Cymrodorion, and the organiser of Dunkin' Like David) believes that Boston deserves to be better known for its Welsh events: “I hope to see Wales Week Boston grow larger each year,” he said. “There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. This is just the second year St David’s Day has received official support in Boston, and the success of our outreach has been phenomenal. There is a great interest in Wales here in America.”
Aled Llion Jones, who teaches Welsh at Boston’s Harvard University and is active with the local Welsh community, emphasises the historical strength of Welsh America: “Welsh-language culture was once strong across much of the United States, and especially here on the east coast. There were poets, novelists, periodicals, newspapers – you name it – being published in Welsh, and the Welsh were a vital force in many aspects of American cultural history, from the earliest European settlements to the Civil War and the anti-slavery movement. It is a relatively unknown story, but one with strong roots.”
Boston Cymrodorion: www.freewebs.com/cymrodorion; firstname.lastname@example.org
St David’s Day Week in Boston features the following events:
- Cymanfa Ganu: First Church Salem, MA.
- Dunkin' Like David (Dewch i'r Dŵr fel Dewi) a Saint David's Day “polar bear plunge” at Revere Beach. Charity fundraiser.
- Boston Children's Museum: Merlin and Dragons animation
- Tom Jones sings in Boston on Saint David's Day.
- The Ryder Cup (next contested in Newport in 2010) on show.
- Welsh Whiskey Tasting
- Talks and Welsh-language classes at Harvard
- (with luck) Celebration of Welsh rugby victory over France!