Happy Tartan Day!
This Thursday, we will be celebrating Tartan Day. This celebration of Scottish heritage takes place on the 06th of April every year, as it is the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. Celebrations for Tartan Day include parades with pipe bands and highland dancers, as well as other Scottish-themed events.
Although the main celebration takes place in New York, Tartan Day actually originated in Canada in the 1980s. Spreading in the 90s to Australasia, a similar International Tartan Day is celebrated on the 1st July. This is the anniversary of the repeal of the 1747 Act of Proscription that banned the wearing of tartan.
In 2004, Angus Council, whose region includes Arbroath, established the first Tartan Day celebration in Scotland on the 6th April. Joining other regional councils, there is an attempt to develop this celebration as a global one. In 2006 , events were held in Arbroath, Montrose, Kilmarnock, Stirling, Perth, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Did you know that?
5.1% or 4.7 million Canadians claim Scottish descent. While Argentina has around 100,000 people of Scottish descent, the largest such community outside the English-speaking world. Three million Australians are either Scottish or of Scottish descent. While there are an estimated are 6 million people in the US who claim Scottish descent. That's a lot of people to celebrate Tartan Day with worldwide!
The Declaration of Arbroath
"We know Most Holy Father and Lord, and from the chronicles and books of the ancients gather, that among other illustrious nations, our's, to wit, the nation of the Scots, has been distinguished by many honours; which passing from the greater Scythia through the Mediterranean Sea and Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar) and sojourning in Spain (Iberia - Heberia - the Hebrew's land) among most savage tribes through a long course of time, could nowhere be subjugated by any people however barbarous; and coming thence one thousand two hundred years after the outgoing of the People of Israel (the Exodus), they by many victories and infinite toil, acquired for themselves the possessions in the West which they now hold, In their kingdom one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, no stranger intervening, have reigned..."
"For so long as a hundred of us are left alive we will yield in no last way to English domination. We fight not for glory, nor for wealth no honour, but only and alone for freedom, which no man surrenders but with his life."
The Declaration of Arbroath is a declaration of Scottish independence that was made in 1320. The letter above is translated from it's original Latin, which was submitted to Pope John XXII, dated the 6th April 1320. The letter was intended to confirm that Scotland viewed itself as an independent sovereign state and would use military action if unjustly attacked.
The letter is believed to have been written in Arbroath Abbey by Bernard of Kilwinning, who was the Chancellor of Scotland at the time. The letter was sealed by a total of 51 magnates and nobles and of the three created at the time, only one has survived through time. The other two letters, assumed to have made similar points, came from the King of Scots and Robert the 1st.
The declaration was part of a wider campaign which sought to assert Scotland's position as a democratic, independent kingdom, rather than being controlled by England's Norman Kings. The campaign also sought to lift the excommunication of Robert the Bruce, who had been excommunicated due to murdering John Comyn (a Scottish Nobelman who was an important figure in the Wars of Scottish independence).
The declaration made a number of points, the first of which was that Scotland had always been independent and for even longer than England. The second point was that Edward I of England had unjustly attacked Scotland and perpetrated atrocities. The third point was that Robert the Bruce had delivered the Scottish nation from its peril. The final, most controversial point was that the independence of Scotland was in fact the prerogative of the Scottish people, not just the King of Scots. The declaration even stated that if Robert the Bruce proved unfit for maintaining Scotland's Independence, then the nobility would choose someone else to be king.
Who signed it?
At the beginning of the document there are 39 names, eight of which are earls and thirty one barons. It is likely that over the weeks or months of the document being written, the seals were added as and when they were able to. It is also suspected that at least 11 more seals were added to the document at a later date.
What happened after?
When the pope received the declaration, he was influenced by the offer of support from the Scots for his long-desired crusade, if they no longer needed to fear an English invasion. He strongly encouraged Edward II to make peace with the Scots, in a letter, however by the following year he was persuaded by the English to take their side. It was only in 1328, after a short-lived peace-treaty between Scotland and England, that the interdict on Scotland and the excommunication of its king were finally removed.
Back to National Tartan Day
Although Scotland has had a turbulent past, Tartan Day is a great way of looking at how far we've come and what we have achieved world wide. The success and achievments of those with Scottish descent around the world is a large focus of the celebrations.
National Tartan Day parades occur in major cities such as New York on or around April 6. These parades often feature bag-pipe bands playing Scottish music and people dressed in kilts with tartan patterns that represent their Scottish clans. Special award events are also held on Tartan Day, often organized by groups such as the American Scottish Foundation.
From all of us here at Scotweb, Happy Tartan Day!