By Fiona Grahame
This article first appeared in the November issue of iScot Magazine.
Thanksgiving is the most important holiday in the US where every year on the 4th Thursday in November Americans mark the day white migrants from Europe were saved from starvation by the savage natives they had come to improve. It is immediately followed by a celebration of consumerism, ‘Black Friday’, now extended to include ‘Cyber Monday’.
This year Black Friday falls on the 23rd of November when those with cash to spare rush out to shopping centres, high streets or increasingly online to buy mounds of stuff they have somehow managed to survive without all year.
As an answer to this splurge of consumerism Scotland will be holding a Fair Day Saturday. As a global event Fair Day Saturday takes place on the day after Black Friday but in Scotland it is being tied into our National Day celebrating St Andrew. Scotland’s Fair Day Saturday is on 1st December 2018.
Fair Day Saturday is the complete antithesis of Black Friday. It is an international celebration by artists and cultural groups where money raised goes towards a social cause. This year the Scottish Government is supporting the initiative which will see activities and events taking place all across Scotland.
“St Andrew’s Fair Saturday contributes to the global Fair Saturday movement and the celebration of St Andrew’s Day and is a key component of a co-ordinated drive to boost social inclusion, fairness and sharing inspired by Scotland’s National Day on 30 November 2018.”( standrews.fairsaturday.org)
The Orkney News will be taking part with an exhibition about the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society at the Northlight Gallery, Stromness: ‘A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm’.
Over the past few months, using the wonderful archives we have in Orkney, we have researched the campaign for women’s suffrage in the islands. Awarded a grant from Scotland’s Centenary Fund artist Martin Laird is creating a short animation to tell this untold story. Education packs will go out to all the schools in Orkney and it will be shown in our local cinema.
The exhibition on St Andrew’s Fair Day is the launch of this exciting project with all proceeds going to our nominated organisation: Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service (O.R.S.A. S). It provides support for anyone who has experienced sexual violence or abuse. In a close knit island community this is an essential confidential service for those in need of advice or support. It offers locally based help for survivors extending it to non abusive family and friends. Importantly the organisation also takes its work out into the community to:
“Work towards the prevention and ultimately the elimination of sexual violence, supporting social change by raising awareness and understanding of rape and sexual violence, challenging myths and campaigning.”(O.R.S.A.S)
The Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society over 100 years ago also campaigned vigorously for social change with the first public meetings in Kirkwall and Stromness on the issue of votes for women taking place in 1871. Made up of men and women – teachers, artists, Ministers and local gentry the Society was about much than votes for women. As suffragists they believed very much in social reform and the positive change that would come about in legislation with female suffrage.
In 2017 600 shows took place on Fair Day Saturday in 114 cities and this year the organisers are aiming to significantly increase this number. The Scottish Government is taking a global lead tying the day into Scotland’s national day. It underlines the changes that have taken place at a governmental and societal level in our nation around inclusion and embracing diversity. This is a Scotland regaining its confidence internationally and expressing it through an explosion of creativity.
“St Andrew’s Fair Saturday is definitely a positive initiative, independent, apolitical and respectful of the human rights, that aims to create a global cultural movement with a positive impact in society on 1 December 2018.” (standrews.fairsaturday.org)
Art work: Martin Laird