Tartan Day!

I’m sure everyone else is just as excited about it being Tartan Day as I am. Tartan Day, yeah! That’s right, the day when people round the world carouse and consume tartan-coloured pints and everyone wears tartan… Um… Yeah, I know, most people have never heard of Tartan Day.

Like the Patrick’s Day parades, Tartan Day was started in New York. Scotland’s mild-mannered answer to Green Beer Day has been perplexing Scots, Scottish-Americans, Scottish-Canadians and random passers-by out shopping since the early 1980s. I saw my first Tartan Day parade a couple of years ago in New York. This is a picture of the mighty Loch Ness Monster that strutted and roared down Avenue of the Americas. Yes, it’s two people under a badly painted sheet. I cowered with shame under the awning of an adjacent Irish bar. At least this year’s parade — on this weekend — has Craig Ferguson as the marshall — one of the approximately four Scots who people have heard of on the left of the Atlantic.

There are quite a few things that I don’t get about Tartan Day. One is the date. April 6th is the anniversary of the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath. Scottish independence, yeah! Oh hold on, we’re not independent. Hmmm. It’s like celebrating the day you got divorced decades after you got back together with a once-abusive former spouse.

The first Tartan Day was July 1st 1982, the 200th anniversary of the repeal of 1747’s Act of Proscription, the law forbidding my people from wear tartan. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense either, in that the law was actually repealed in mid-August 1782. These days only Australia celebrates Tartan Day on July 1st. I like Australia.

Before starting work on this book I had no idea anyone had ever even picked up a pen in Arbroath, but it seems they did. And for the sake of it being Tartan Day and all and just because it’s just so fascinating, click here for my edit of what the Declaration says.

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