LUXEMBOURG
CATHERINE KURZAWA WITH NICO PLEIMLING

About a thousand expats from Scotland live in the Grand-Duchy

Alba is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland, and also the name Scottish expats have chosen for their association in Luxembourg. It is set up as an non-profit organization (a.s.b.l.) that counts three members who are organizing events, explains Michael Doyle, president of Alba Luxembourg. His estimate is that about a thousand Scots are currently living in the Grand-Duchy: “There are people who are interested in the events that we organize and they can join us. In order to promote our events, we send out e-mails, but we don’t run on a membership and hence there’s no fee involved.”

Activities not exclusive to Scots

Alba Luxembourg only hosts two events right now: a St. Andrew’s event that usually takes place on the last Friday in November at the British Ambassador’s residence in order to celebrate St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland and Burns’ Supper, which is organized each year in January. Doyle points out that Robert Burns is the most famous Scottish poet: He was born on a 25th of January and during the event we have the traditional Scottish meal, the haggis. It consists of a stuffed sheep stomach. There’s also a lot of whisky as well as a lot of entertainment such as speeches. But again, there are also people from about everywhere, so there’s a good mix of nationalities.”

Scottish culture is also represented by the Luxembourg Pipe Band and the Luxembourg Scottish Country Dance Club, as Michael Doyle explains. He adds: “The idea of our association is to promote Scottish culture abroad, but the activities are not exclusive to Scots. We are always glad to welcome Luxembourgers, French, Germans, Belgians and people of any other nationality.”

The events are in general attended by about a hundred people. For Burns’ Supper, Alba Luxembourg orders haggis directly from Scotland, says Doyle: “You can find it here, but the best haggis comes out of Scotland. A few years back it was difficult to set up an event, but in the meantime we have the contacts and things are much easier to pull off.”

Doyle also says that locals in Luxembourg are aware of the upcoming referendum about Scottish independence. Alba Luxembourg supports the idea of this referendum: “We think it’s great for the people of Scotland to have the opportunity in order to decide whether they want to become independent or not, instead of the government taking such an important decision. That’s really a good thing, but we don’t share political opinions in the group.”

Many similarities between Scotland and Luxembourg

The president of Alba Luxembourg considers the referendum as a historical event, no matter what the outcome is. He further sees quite a few similarities between Scotland and Luxembourg: “They are both small nations and Luxembourgers and Scots are proud of their countries and their languages. Our people are very loyal and proud of being Scottish and I believe there’s a similar mentality in Luxembourg.”

When it comes to administrative matters, it seems to be a bit difficult for expats from Scotland when they first sign up and have to visit up to seven different offices. Bringing the car over would be a sheer nightmare and as it seems, weekends are too quiet in Luxembourg, says Doyle. He adds: “I think a lot of people don’t give Luxembourg a second chance. There are a lot of interesting things to be discovered here, but maybe they’re not advertised enough. Finally, since a lot of children of Scottish expatriates are born in Luxembourg, I believe it’s important to get them acquainted with their cultural roots and Scottish traditions.”

www.albaluxembourg.lu