Friday is the day to dust off the tartan

April 6 is an opportunity to celebrate a colourful symbol of Scotland

  • Apr. 4, 2012 7:00 a.m.

Peter Kendal

Special to the Morning Star

In Canada there are estimated to be more than 15 per cent of the population who are Scots or of Scottish descent. And to show their Scots connection and roots, the easiest way is to wear that very Scots symbol of the tartan. Why not join in the event observed in so many places in the world as Tartan Day, April 6?

But I don’t have a tartan that I have a “right” to wear, you may say. Let me put you straight on that myth. Anybody can wear whatever tartan that they choose to. Any originator of a tartan should take it as a compliment to them that you choose to wear that tartan. Ideally it should be a tartan that has some meaning for you such as one denoting a clan, district or regiment. (There are a very few personal tartans for which you must have that person’s direct permission to wear.) As well there are tartans for associations, corporations, clergy, fashion, general purpose, national, provinces and other bodies. If there are none of these that meet your connections, then pick one that you like, and as there are more than 13,000 tartans available you will be able to find one to your liking. You really have no reason not to wear this distinctive and colourful pattern.

It does not mean that you have to rush out and buy a kilt and all the accessories. Putting together such an outfit is not a quick job nor an inexpensive one. Suggested starts to the process are a tie or shirt for a man, and a scarf, skirt or blouse for a lady. But whatever it is, big or little, wear something tartan on the day!

Tartan Day is to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in the year 1320 AD. This was the first declaration of national identity of Scotland, and it forms much of the basis of the better known Declaration of Independence of the U.S. So there was no real remembrance of such an important event until Angus Council (Arbroath is in the Scottish county of Angus) started the official Tartan Day in 2004. It quickly spread to Scots communities throughout the world.

Somebody once said there are two kinds of people, “Those who were born Scottish and those who wish they had been.” Let me suggest a third kind, those who recognize their Scottish heritage and are proud of it. And it doesn’t matter how long ago it was since any of your ancestors were in Scotland!