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FW: Happy Tartan Day

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  • Les Hewett
    TARTAN DAY April 6th in USA & Canada July 1st Australasia and the Rest of World There are two dates currently used to celebrate Tartan Day - 6th April in North
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2006
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      April 6th in USA & Canada

      July 1st Australasia and the Rest of World


      There are two dates currently used to celebrate Tartan Day - 6th April in North America and July 1st in Australia , New Zealand and other countries – which is unique anywhere in the world.


      The significance of the 6th April  relates to the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath when 6 years after Bannockburn 100 men gathered at Arbroath Abby to write a Declaration of their loyalty to Scotland and forward this to the Pope in Italy to have him support their case for Independence. Some 8 years later 1328 the Treaty of Northampton was signed by Edward III of England acknowledging that Scotland was an Independent Nation and that Robert the Bruce was the Independent King of Scots. Bruce died a year later.


      The Declaration of Arbroath is one of the most revolutionary documents found anywhere – for to make the following statement would have meant certain death as a traitor in England – but Robert the Bruce, King of Scots put his seal to it:


      Extract from the Declaration of Arbroath 1320


      “They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules , and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea , to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken a single foreigner.”


      “But from these countless evils we have been set free, by the help of Him Who though He afflicts yet heals and restores, by our most tireless Prince, King and Lord, the Lord Robert. He, that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of our enemies, met toil and fatigue, hunger and peril, like another Macabaeus or Joshua and bore them cheerfully. Him, too, divine providence, his right of succession according to or laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made our Prince and King. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand. Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”


      The significance of the 1st July is the fact that on the 1st July 1782 an Act was passed called the Repeal Proclamation. This Act repealed the Act of Proscription 1747 which made it an offence to wear tartan amongst other things. Many believe the significance of this anniversary acknowledges this Act as having far greater relevance to Tartan and therefore the International promotion of a Tartan Day of recognition and celebration.


      Many would have heard of Bonnie Prince Charlie, also known as the Young Pretender by his enemies, and how he tried to get back the Scottish throne of his father James VIII of Scots and III of England and Ireland (hence the term Jacobite) - the Old Pretender by his enemies.


      The most well know part of this period of history was the Battle of Culloden in 1746, which was fought on Drumossie Moor, about 5 miles east of Inverness in the north of Scotland . It was also known as the Second Jacobite Uprising or ‘The 45’ - the Fist Uprising was in 1715. It was also called the Death of the Clans, and it lasted for less than an hour. It was also the last battle fought on mainland Britain .


      Wounded clansmen, with the terrible injuries that grapeshot and musket balls at close range can induce, littered Drummossie Moor. Duke of Cumberland (also known as the Butcher) ordered that no quarter was to be shown to those who had entered into a treasonous adventure against the king and presently the bayonets of the redcoats finished the work begun by the artillery and musketry of the government line. There is little honour in the slaying of wounded, helpless men and  a young James Wolfe, the later conqueror of Quebec , refused to participate. Most of his comrades in arms took to the task with gusto. Of those that survived many were sent as slaves to the Americas . It must be noted that no British Regiment has Culloden as a battle honour. (We can be forever thankful that the Scottish Regiments in the British Army kept alive the wearing of the kilt and the playing of the pipes).


      The next year the Act of Proscription (August 1747) made it punishable with SEVEN YEARS TRANSPORTATION for wearing the TARTAN (this would have been mainly to the American Colonies). “........ wear or put on the clothes, commonly called Highland clothes (that is to say) the Plaid, Philabeg, or little kilt, Trowes, Shoulder-Belts, or any part whatever of what peculiarly belongs to the Highland Garb; and that no tartan or party-coloured plaid or stuff shall be used every person so offending .... shall be liable to be transported to any of His Majesty's plantations beyond the seas, there to remain for the space of seven years.” This also included the bag pipes as they were considered a de facto instrument of war.


      The Act of Proscription was repealed by the British Government obtaining the King's assent on 1st July 1782 . In Scotland there was great rejoicing - and a proclamation was issued in Gaelic and English.


      Woodrow Wilson said of the Scots, "Every line of strength in American history is a line coloured with Scottish blood."


      The contribution of the immigrant Scots upon North America ( Canada and the US and also Australia , New Zealand , South Africa etc.) is massive and these people have remained proud of their heritage.


      Numerous groups and societies throughout Canada and America have taken the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath (1320) as their national date to celebrate their Scottish roots.


      On December 19th 1991 , in response to action initiated by the Clans & Scottish Societies of Canada, the Ontario Legislature passed a resolution proclaiming April 6th as Tartan Day, following the example of other Canadian provinces.


      America followed suit on March 20th 1998 , when Senate Resolution 155 (S.Res. 155), proposed by US Senate Republican majority leader Trent Lott, was passed unanimously.


      The resolution, with its preamble, is as follows:


      IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES November 10, 1997 Mr. Lott submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.


      RESOLUTION Designating April 6 of each year as ``National Tartan Day'' to recognize the outstanding achievements and contributions made by Scottish Americans to the United States .


      Whereas April 6 has a special significance for all Americans, and especially those Americans of Scottish descent, because the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, was signed on April 6, 1320 and the American Declaration of Independence was modelled on that inspirational document;


      Whereas this resolution honours the major role that Scottish Americans played in the founding of this Nation, such as the fact that almost half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent, the Governors in 9 of the original 13 States were of Scottish ancestry, Scottish Americans successfully helped shape this country in its formative years and guided this Nation through its most troubled times;


      Whereas this resolution recognizes the monumental achievements and invaluable contributions made by Scottish Americans that have led to America's preeminence in the fields of science, technology, medicine, government, politics, economics, architecture, literature, media, and visual and performing arts;


      Whereas this resolution commends the more than 200 organizations throughout the United States that honor Scottish heritage, tradition, and culture, representing the hundreds of thousands of Americans of Scottish descent, residing in every State, who already have made the observance of Tartan Day on April 6 a success; and


      Whereas these numerous individuals, clans, societies, clubs, and fraternal organizations do not let the great contributions of the Scottish people go unnoticed:


      Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate designates April 6 of each year as “National Tartan Day''.




      What is it, how do we interpret it and does it matter?


      There are many forms of history, ancient, modern, medieval, romantic, written by the victor, written by the vanquished, written by one religious order, written by a second or third religious order, translated from one language to another. Evolving, oral, and forgotten.


      Anything that happened yesterday or last week or anytime in the past is history and today and next week we will have made history by the time next month comes around therefore it is important that when we assess history we endeavour to collect all the facts and not try to rewrite history with a flavour other than the TRUTH.


      Then I suppose it comes down to a matter of the individuals interpretation of the truth.   One of the most common problem areas in Scottish History is what has become to be known as the shortbread biscuit tin version  of Scottish History.  Authors such as Sir Walter Scott, and other romantic novelists have tended to create a version of history which is most PLEASING to the reader.  Nigel Tranter endeavours to paint a picture in the minds eye of what was taking place at the time and again this is coloured by his view and interpretation of history much of which at that time was not written and if it was it was written in either ancient Latin or old Scots.


      A considerable amount of Scotland 's written history was taken away from official archives during the various visits made by conquering armies from the South.  However, declarations, laws, treaties etc., have survived and it is without doubt that all of these FACTS of history be acknowledged and celebrated in whatever way one thinks is appropriate.


      I wear my kilt on every occasion possible and that may be because of my Scottish heritage in that having spent so much in its purchase I cannot see any reason why it should hang in the wardrobe unworn.  This brings me to the celebration of Tartan Day.


      By celebrating Tartan Day on the 1st July we can also acknowledge the restoration of the Scottish Parliament which took place on the 1st July 1999 .


      Australia has just gone through a process of a referendum to ascertain if we were to become a Republic. Had this Referendum been successful would we now call the day of the Referendum Australia Day, the day we became an Independent Nation Australia Day, the day we became a Federation in 1901 or the day we currently call Australia Day. January 26th when the First Fleet landed in Botany Bay in 1788.


      When deciding on a day for Celebration the most appropriate day should be chosen for the most relevant reason.


      The same principle applies when looking at Coats of Arms, designs of tartan, Clan history etc. We must be careful not to tinker with the traditional significance of the past for the sake of modern life styles or personal preference. Never mind possible breaches of the Law.


      From the Founder Clan Cleland Society (World wide) and the President Australian-Scottish Association (Qld) Inc


      Tartan Day in Canada


      Here are some facts about Tartan Day from the recent newsletter of the Clan Ross Association of Canada, Inc.


      There are more people of Scots descent throughout the world than you'll find in Scotland itself. Tartan Day was established for people of Scottish heritage in the " New World " to show pride in their background and respect for their pioneer ancestors who were instrumental in developing the countries in which they now live. The Scottish value of hard work and education resulted in their prominence in the fields of business, education, government, the military and the professions.


      Tartan Day originated in Nova Scotia , Canada , with a proposal from the Federation of Scottish Clans. On December 19th 1991 , in response to action initiated by the Clans & Scottish Societies of Canada, the Ontario Legislature passed a resolution proclaiming April 6th as Tartan Day. Manitoba was the third Canadian Province to recognize this day in 1994 with Bill 2061 (although April 6th had been proclaimed Tartan Day on a year by year basis for several years prior to this). The day is now officially recognized by all Provinces except Newfoundland and Quebec .


      1. Private Member's Bill 206 - The Coat of Arms, Emblems and the Manitoba Tartan Amendment Act was sponsored by Mr. McAlpine, given first reading on June 7, 1994, given second reading on June 23, 1994, reported without amendments from the Standing Committee on Private Bills on June 29, concurred in on July 4, 1994, received third reading on July 5 and received royal assent on July 5. The Bill came into force on royal assent, July 5, 1994 .


      Bill 206 was sponsored by Mr. Gerry McAlpine (who happened to by Progressive Conservative ... but more importantly a strong Scottish connection). I used to be in the Kinsmen Club with Gerry years ago. Gerry is a member of the local St. Andrew's Society, and was prevailed upon by one of our Clan Ross members, Eldon Ross of Winnipeg (and a long-time PC supporter) to sponsor the Bill. A lot of the groundwork was done by Georgie Balneaves of the (now defunct) Manitoba Coalition of Scottish Clans.


      The exact wording of Bill 206 ... which was an amendment to "The Coat of Arms, Emblems and The Manitoba Tartan Act" is:


      Whereas the Selkirk Settlers settled in Manitoba in the early 1800's and the Scots played a significant role in the establishment of Manitoba ;


      And whereas Scottish Manitobans continue to make outstanding contributions to Manitoba 's social, economic and political life;


      And whereas April 6th has been chosen as "Tartan Day" in Canada to recognize and appreciate the accomplishments of Scots in Canada ;


      And whereas Manitoba 's own tartan was approved in 1962 and registered in Scotland as the official tartan of Manitoba ;


      And whereas Manitoba encourages its citizens to celebrate the achievements of their cultural heritage;


      Therefore Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:


      (The following is added after section 6 of The Coat of Arms, Emblems and the Manitoba Tartan Act:)


      Manitoba Tartan Day

      6.1     In recognition of the role that Scottish Manitobans have played and continue to play in Manitoba 's cultural heritage, April 6 in each year is declared to be "Manitoba Tartan Day".

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