29 Years of Tartan Day
Now as a runner I am a little concerned about the pain of running through Central Park in a pair of Highland Dancing shoes but what a way to kick off Tartan Week in New York!
Did you know that Tartan Day actually originated in Canada not New York City? To give you the history lesson The Federation for Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia instituted Tartan Day in 1986 to “address a lack of heritage interest by young people” and 29 years later it is still going strong. In 2010 the federal government designated Tartan Day a national day in Canada and the date of April 6th was chosen to co-incide with the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. In 1998 the US Senate followed suit and the first New York City parade took place in 1999 when two pipe bands marched from the British Consulate to the United Nations. Thousands now march every year and there are so many activities around the Parade that Tartan Day has become Tartan Week. With 6 million people in America of Scots descents, more than the number of people who actually live in Scotland it is no wonder the event is so popular. This year’s New York Tartan Day Parade takes place on 11th April and you can register here.
Tartan Day is not all about parades and more of a celebration of all things Scottish with all sorts going on this week. Chef John Higgins better known by his Twitter handle @haggisracer had the Scottish Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown in attendance last night and on Thursday will lead a cooking class event “All you want to know about Haggis” with tastings of Haggis, Scotch Eggs and Rhubarb dead….what exactly Rhubard dead is we are unsure? As a fan of that plant that continues to grow in my garden regardless of what I do to it I look forward to finding out!
We spoke to The Highland Divas performing A Musical Crossroads at The Homecoming on 8th April in New York. Georgia, Margaret, and Marla are The Highland Divas: Two Scots from Glasgow and Falkirk and a Kiwi from Dunedin. Three women from different parts of the world, with diverse musical backgrounds and a common heritage who came together in 2010 to perform a journey of Celtic and Traditional Scottish ballads to thrilling, harmonized interpretations of popular and classical music. The Divas told us “We all moved New York city years ago and although we love what the city & the US have offered us. During Tartan week we have the experience of relaxing into our original culture & reconnecting with the people & the fabric that made us. It’s a great week for New York city & a precious week for “The Divas.” seeing our two Homes; Scotland and America coming together to celebrate our very own heritage. With Kilts, Pipes, Ceilidhs, Whisky, Scottie Dogs and more. We also love the ample opportunities that arise for us as The Highland Divas during Tartan Week, to perform our music for those that love and cherish Scotland as much as we do. It is a time of year where we all, get a chance to show New York what Scotland is all about, with some good old fashioned Scottish Pride.” We just wish we were in New York to hear the show! The lastest news is that American TV host Jimmy Fallon jumped on stage in that fine piece of Highland Dress, a “See you Jimmy” hat and joined the Divas for an impromptu rendition of Mustang Sally.
Brian Wilton from the Scottish Tartans Authority always has his finger on the button when it comes to celebrating tartan and he told us yesterday “I see from the number of Google Alerts that I receive on “tartan” that Tartan Day is really catching on in a wide variety of locations around the world. The New York Tartan Day Parade may be rained on this Saturday (the forecast is not good!), but it’s had the most support for many a year. All of this is creating great commercial opportunities for the textile and Highland dress industry — if it can rise to the occasion and come up with the innovative approach that major overseas markets now expect.”
We are sadly not in New York to enjoy the festivities but if you are don’t miss the Captain Kidd exhibition on Ellis Island organised by Clan Currie, watch out for Outlander star Graham McTavish who is Grand Marshall at the Parade on Saturday, strut your stuff at the Scot Street Style fashion party in Brooklyn and raise a glass to Billy Connolly when he receives a Great Scot Award by the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA at their annual dinner.