Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May 2016 (Vol. 39, Number 11)

The Banner Says…

Scotland’s icons

Scotland is known for many iconic things from bagpipes, castles, history, great inventors, music, its people and great scenery to name just a few. Few however will think of Scotland without kilts and tartan. Tartan Day has just been celebrated across North America and plans are under way for celebrations in the Southern Hemisphere on July 1st, the cloth of our nation continues to be popular across the world. Whilst whisky is enjoyed by millions around the world and is another icon of Scotland and her people and this month Whisky Month is being celebrated across Scotland and World Whisky Day is seeing people raise a glass on May 21st.

Tartan-The cloth of a nation

Tartan, what beauty this fabric exudes. Of all national symbols tartan is probably the world’s most widely recognized and acceptable of fabrics. It can be fashioned into clothing, including a wide range of traditional garments both worldwide and at home. Tartan is a very useful Scottish cloth. In Gaelic it is known as “braecan” meaning a particolored or speckled, otherwise coarse fabric or wool, linen or cotton. It is composed of different coloured wools woven into a distinctive patterns known as a ‘sett’. Few Scots, or those of Scottish descent, fail to be stirred by tartan. This cloth is made of varying coloured wools, woven into a distinctive pattern of stripes and checks – also known as a sett. It is a symbol of patriotism which few Scots or those of Scottish descent, fail to be stirred by. Ever since the 1500’s, and to this day, British royalty still like to be seen wearing tartan on appropriate occasions. Very soon the Braemar Gathering, taking place each September, and which the Royal Family like to attend, usually wearing the Balmoral tartan at the event. This tartan was designed around 1848 by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort. Another tartan, the Royal Stewart, is said to be exclusive to the British sovereign, although eight other Scottish families are entitled to wear other variations of it.

Historical factors

The present popularity tartan enjoys, is due to a number of historical factors. One of these is when Bonnie Prince Charlie made his aborted bid for the British throne in 1745. This is also when a legendary figure was born. He caught the attention of Brits worldwide, he helped Scots became ‘fashionable’ – even romantic! Soon a tailor from Edinburgh, decided to advertise “Tartans in the newest patterns”. This enterprise swelled the ranks of tartans setts from fifty-five in 1831, to more than a thousand today. Queen Victoria fell in love with both the country of Scotland and the tartan itself, when she visited there in 1855. Shortly after that Prince Albert’s Balmoral Castle was resplendent with tartan carpets, sofas, and chairs. It was during that time, tartan became the fabric of choice for many crinolines. Today tartan is an accepted form of dress, not only in Scotland, but in other parts of the world also. Men don the kilt and women wear tartan sashes, secured by brooches over their shoulder. The most popular tartan has been for many years, and still is the Black Watch. Strictly speaking, tartan of any kind can only be worn by those who claim the historical right or ‘belong’ to a particular Scottish clan. Yet tartan is a proud and sturdy link between Sots. There’s a colour a sett, and a tale, behind each and every one. Few countries can carry signs of their birthright on their clothing, and yet Scots can. Many family names are connected to their own tartan. Its part of being Scottish and part of showing pride in their heritage. Watch this space for some exciting news from us here at the Scottish Banner regarding tartan in an upcoming issue.

Water of life

Another Scottish icon we cannot forget is whisky, also known as the water of life (or uisge beatha in Gaelic). May in Scotland is Whisky Month and many people will also be celebrating World Whisky Day on May 21st. In this issue we have literally poured you a “whisky flavoured” edition highlighting the drop that has made Scotland famous. Whisky is big business for Scotland and as the nation spends this month celebrating you can raise your glass to whisky, which is produced and right across Scotland and enjoyed around the world. Whisky is part of Scotland’s business, social and tourism footprint and includes such a special history for Scotland. We hope you enjoy learning more about World Whisky Day, Whisky Month and the great architecture which blends together in celebration of Scotland’s spirit.

Celebrating 40 years

And finally it is hard to believe but we here at the Scottish Banner will soon be celebrating 40 years of monthly publication this July. Since 1976 thousands of ex-pat Scots and those of Scottish descent have been getting the Scottish Banner in order to connect with home and one another. So much has changed in since we began and the Scottish Banner family is certainly wider now than when we began. We would like any readers who have a Scottish Banner story to tell to share with us. Where did you first find the Banner? Has the paper helped you connect with anyone? Have you found a recipe for a favourite family dish in our pages? Have you celebrated your Scottish heritage or attended a Scottish event listed in our pages? We would love to hear from readers on how the Scottish Banner has helped you or been a part of your life. Please share your thoughts with us either via our web site or email or post your nearest office and together let’s celebrate 40 years!