April 2020 (Vol. 43, Number 10)
The Banner Says…
Don’t be a Huntigowk and not wear tartan in April
The month of April is considered a month of change for many and depending on where you are reading this your nights are sure to be getting longer or shorter.
The month of course begins with a few tricks up its sleeve and many people trying to catch others out on April Fool’s Day, in Scotland April Fool’s Day is traditionally called as Huntigowk Day.
In Scots Gowk means a foolish person or cuckoo. The unique thing about Scotland’s fool’s day is that unlike many other countries Scotland celebrates it for two days, on April 1st and April 2nd. On the first day people play pranks and tell lies to catch each other in an embarrassing situation.
According to tradition people need to stop playing pranks and hoaxes by midday. In olden times Hunt-the- Gowk Day was celebrated by sending a person to find the fool for the day.
Although this tradition is followed in some areas, it is slowly dying out. On the second day or Tailie Day paper tails are attached to people’s backs. A typical Huntigowk prank was handing someone a sealed envelope and asking them to deliver it to someone else.
The recipient would open the letter – and read: “Dinna laugh, dinna smile, Hunt the gowk another mile.” While the history of April Fool’s Day or All Fools’ Day is uncertain, we know the Romans celebrated a day of fun and games with the Festival of Hilaria while, in ancient civilisation, New Year was celebrated between March 25 and April 1st . Anyone who observed New Year’s Day on April 1 was called a fool or an April fish.
The day of its celebration was the first after the vernal equinox, or the first day of the year which was longer than the night (usually March 22). The winter with its gloom had died, and the first day of a better season was spent in rejoicings.
Just a few days later across North America thousands of Scots will be celebrating Tartan Day on or around April 6th. Tartan Day honours Scottish heritage and the achievements that those of Scottish descent have had across North America and the world.
The movement to get Tartan Day going and recognised began in Nova Scotia, Canada at a meeting of the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia in March, 1986. Members, Bill Crowell, and Jean MacKaracher-Watson, put forward the following motion to the Federation: “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.” Quite fitting that this recognition came from Nova Scotia, which translates to ‘New Scotland’.
In the Southern Hemisphere International Tartan Day is celebrated on July 1st, the anniversary of the repeal of the 1747 Act of Proscription. The government passed the Act of Proscription in 1747 to punish the Jacobite rebels. The act banned tartan and Highland dress for nearly four decades until 1782.
In this issue
This month marks the 700th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath on April 6th. The Declaration is a letter written in 1320 by Scottish nobles and whole community of the kingdom of Scotland to the pope, asking him to recognise Scotland’s independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king. This is considered Scotland’s most significant historical document and no doubt the 700th anniversary celebrations will remind people on just what an important and fascinating document this is.
Speaking of Robert the Bruce, our US readers are quite fortunate to have the cinema release of the film, Robert the Bruce, taking place this month. We have caught
up with the film’s star, producer and writer Angus Macfadyen. The Glasgow born actor reprises his role as Robert the Bruce after first taking on this role in the internationally successful 1995 release, Braveheart.
The European Stone Stacking Championships takes place this month in Dunbar. The competition will find the best and brightest European stacking artists, with the winner invited to participate in the World Stone Stacking Championships held annually in Lllano, Texas.
Most of us know Edinburgh explodes with character and history, but did you know it once did of lava and is a volcanic city? In fact, dormant volcanoes fill the skyline and Edinburgh’s most iconic building, Edinburgh Castle, is on top of one.
Corona Virus (COVID-19)
As we go to press with this edition the global impact of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) is becoming clear. The international Scottish event community worldwide has been greatly affected by event postponements and cancellations due to restrictions related to the virus.
Once this issue is distributed no doubt more events will be making announcements
into the coming weeks. As the Scottish Banner hosts the world’s leading international Scottish events listing, we are updating our online events section daily (www.scottishbanner.com/events) as news reaches us.
We are asking readers and followers to check direct with events for details and organisers should contact us at [email protected] to share any changes (whether that be now or possibly down the track). We do have many organisations and publications who also use our listing and we are striving to keep our valuable community resource the most up to date listings available.
I am deeply aware of how this rapidly changing issue is now impacting current events, and has potential for those in the coming months, and our thoughts are with all organisers, attendees and participants at this unprecedented time.
Once deemed safe I urge all our readers and friends to support Scottish events and of course other Scottish cultural groups and retailers who will also be greatly impacted.
I look forward to when our community can get back to normal and celebrate our great culture, in the meantime the Scottish Banner stands ready in any way we can to assist and support Scottish events and the wider Scottish community both now and in the future.
What does the Declaration of Arbroath mean to you? Share with us the impact the Corona Virus is having on your Scottish connection, or have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us