Tartan Day is here! Tartan Day is the day that kicks off Tartan Week in New York City. But it is not only celebrated in New York – it is also celebrated across Canada. It is a week of paying respects to their Scottish Heritage and honouring the contributions that all Scottish people have brought along with them to Canada and America.
Tartan Day was first celebrated in Canada in Nova Scotia. In 1986, the Federation of Clans held a meeting in Nova Scotia to put forward the motion of a day to obvserve Scottish Heritage. It was mentioned at the meeting “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.” Jean Watson of Nova Scotia approched every Legislative Assembly across Canada to make this a national day of observation. Finally in 2010 the Minister of Canadian Heritage officially declared April 6 as Tartan Day. April 6th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, the Scottish declaration of independence. Today many celebrations are held nation wide that include pipe bands, highland dancers, parades, music, and of course dancing.
Tartan Day in New York City also lands on April 6th – with celebrations taking place on the following Saturday. This year on April 8th there will be a large parade (as there is every year) down 6th Ave. It is always led by a Grand Marshall that is chosen carefully by the National Tartan Day New York Committee. In the past this role has been appointed to Sir Sean Connery, Scottish born actors Alan Cumming and Sam Heughan, and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. This year’s Grand Marshall is acclaimed actor Tommy Flanagan. Drummers, pipers, dancers, and all people of Scottish heritage will march down 6th Avenue on Saturday at 2:00pm to celebrate their heritage. The entire week is filled with a whole range of Scottish themed events, including a huge post parade party that takes place at B B Kings in Times Square. The party will include lots of Belhaven beer, special cocktails created by Glenlivet, and lots of musical performances.
Other countries across the world, including Australia and Argentina also celebrate Tartan Day too. Australia, which is home to more than 3 million people who consider themselves Scottish or of Scottish decent, celebrate Tartan Day on July 1st. This is the day which coincides with the repeal of the Act of Proscription (which banned the wearing of tartan). In Australia celebrations tend to be a bit more private amongst clans, but there is movement in Australia, as well as New Zealand, to have larger scale celebrations which coincide with the April 6th. We think it would be fantastic to see this celebration go global, seeing photos of people in numerous countries celebrating Tartan Day on April 6th in their clan tartan.