Tuesday, April 6, 2021


tartan day

Happy Tartan Day! April 6 is a day for celebrating Scottish heritage for Americans and Canadians that commemorates the date of the Declaration of Arboath which is considered one of the most famous documents in the history of Scotland. A symbol of Scottish independence, the Declaration of Arboath was a plea from the unified barons of the kingdom to the Pope requesting diplomatic recognition from the Vatican of Scotland as its own country separate from English rule. Tartan Day is meant to bring together people with Scottish family ties and promote the national culture across North America through community events, parades and celebrations.

With the pandemic many of these Tartan Day festivities have been put on hold. Still I decided to enjoy the day indulging in some IRN-BRU and Mackie's Potato Crisps picked up from The Scottish Grocer. Slàinte Mhath!

Irn-Bru is a sugary soft drink produced in Scotland that actually outsells soda behemoths Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the country. Irn-Bru has a pop with its carbonation and a flavor that could be described as liquid bubblegum. Also as wine drinkers would say, this beverage has a flowery bouquet to it which is unusual for a soda. Irn-Bru is not something readily on store shelves outside Scotland but it available via mail-order through North Carolina-based The Scottish Grocer which imports it for sales within the United States. With its unique flavor, Irn-Bru is worth giving a taste.

Mackie's Potato Crisps of Scotland have a distinct flavor and texture to these Scottish made snacks made to appeal to Scot tastes. Naturally grown potatoes are selected produced in a unique gentle cooking method so that you taste their traditional Scottish flavors rather than the oil they are cooked in. The Haggis & Black Pepper variety particularly bring the taste of Scotland to your palate. Don't call them chips ... they're potato crisps!

tartan day snacks

My Scottish ancestry goes back to Catholic, Gaelic-speaking Highlanders that opposed the Acts of Union which altered Scotland from being an independent kingdom to a merged entity with England ruled by a throne and parliament based in London creating one nation known as Great Britain. With Protestants gaining increased economic and political power within Great Britain combined with a new English dominance over the affairs of Scotland, my relatives migrated to Catholic communities within Ireland and then eventually on to the New World. Tartan Day is a time to reflect back on those roots to our family tree and embrace that Scottish heritage.

So what is a Tartan? Tartan, or Breacan in Scottish Gaelic, is a pattern of cloth consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors. Particular tartan patterns were often associated with specific Scottish clans as a type of family crest. The most recognizable example of tartan for most people will be the fabric used for kilts.

Because tartan is such a symbol of Scottish identity and associated with kilts which were widely used as battle uniforms by the Scots, after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 for Scottish Independence the English victory resulted in Great Britain banning tartans and kilts from being produced. So Tartan Day is named to highlight this symbol of Scottish identity with descendants from Scotland that now live in the United States and Canada. For more information about tartan a great resource is the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina.

Bagpipes, Highland dancing, Scotch whiskey, Robert Burns poetry and traditional Scot foods and dress are just a few things to appreciate on Tartan Day. As I munch on my bag of Mackie's Potato Crisps and sip from my bottle of Irn-Bru, the music of my daughter's virtual Highland dancing lesson is rising up from the basement. As I enjoy the moment gach dùrachd to each of you for a year of health and fulfilling experiences. 

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