April 2017 (Vol. 40, Number 10)
The Banner Says…
Tartan Day-Celebrating the Scots
Here in North America it is time to dust off the kilts, position the plaid, and get ready for Tartan Day! Tartan Day is the annual celebration of the achievements and contributions that Scottish forbearers had across both Canada and the USA.
Our Australian and New Zealand readers will note that Tartan Day is celebrated in your part of the world on July 1st, marking the repeal of the 1747 Act and the banning of wearing of tartan.
This month will also see the Big Apple turn tartan at the 19th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade takes place on April 8th and part of the Scotland Week, a week-long programme of events promoting Scotland in North America. Events will take place throughout the city, all dedicated to Scots and their important contribution to America.
Amongst the pipe bands, Clans marching, Scottish dancers and Scottie dogs will be the parade Grand Marshal actor Tommy Flanagan. Tommy was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland and seemed very proud to be honoured as Grand Marshal of the Parade.
He later said; “I have great pride in my heritage. Although I now live in Malibu, I visit Scotland regularly and visit with my family. I’ll have my daughter flying her flag forever”. Past marshals have include Sir Sean Connery, Scots-born actors Brian Cox, Kevin McKidd, Alan Cumming and Sam Heughan, and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
The origins of Tartan Day
The origins of Tartan Day however come from Canada’s East Coast in 1986. Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia members Bill Crowell and Jean MacKaracher-Watson put forward a motion which stated: “That we establish a day known as ‘Tartan Day’. This to be a day chosen to promote Scottish Heritage by the most visible means. The wearing of the Scottish attire, especially in places where the kilt is not ordinarily worn, i.e.: work, play or worship.”
This began a decade’s work of working with Scottish community groups and every province in Canada to have the day officially recognised. Scottish settlers have made a huge contribution to that country, and it is very appropriate people remember and honour the many Scots who helped shape Canada to be the nation it is now, which is this year celebrating 150 years.
As Tartan Day became better known and the momentum picked up, the Americans heard about it. They decided they too wanted to promote it, and Tartan Day gained even further recognition. This special day, little known just a few short years ago, has gathered a great deal of momentum recently, and has now become an important day in the life of those promoting the contribution of Scots to North American audiences.
Wear something tartan
Whilst not everyone can be celebrating in New York itself several events are also taking place throughout Canada and the USA. Everybody is encouraged wear something (however small) tartan. From kilts, ties, sashes, stockings to dog collars all help you make a statement on this important day.
I even received a telephone call from Australia where a charming man called to say he had stayed up half way through the night to wait for our office to open up here in Florida, just to wish me a Happy Tartan Day. His time zone is approximately 16 hours ahead of our Florida time and that I believe, shows how strong our links can be.
Lady Fiona MacGregor
Our North American readers can read more about Tartan Day in this issue while we also explore a fascinating range of topics. Our cover couple from the Highlands who decided last month to get married on one of Scotland’s highest mountains and in skis! Jonathan in his kilt and Bridget skied down in her white wedding dress. A magical day and memory for this special couple.
This month is also the Pagan festival of light in Edinburgh at the Beltane Fire Festival which has turned into a great event for the Scottish capital. The Johnstone Collection in Wick has digitally archived an incredible collection of Caithness social history which images which were collected by three generations of one family over a hundred years and the Scottish Banner is very fortunate to be able to reproduce some of those images in this edition. Glasgow Central Station is one of my favourite stations in Britain and we learn about the tour which now takes place there and the important role this station continues to play in the lives of Glaswegians.
And finally all of us here at the Scottish Banner would also like to congratulate Lady Fiona MacGregor for recently receiving an award from the British Royal Television Society. Fiona, who is also Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries, was awarded with the Contribution award in recognition of her long and distinguished career in television. This award is so well deserved and we are thrilled a long time writer and friend of the Banner was recognised in this way.
Will you be celebrating Tartan Day? Whether it be in North America or soon in Australasia tell us your story and share with us your views by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us