Surrender 97: National Tartan Day 2016

As an American with Scottish ancestry, I’ve looked toward to celebrating this holiday again. I had fun wearing the plaid last April 6, and this year, I wore my tartan scarf once more as I was out this afternoon. 


This holiday was established by a resolution in the US Senate in 1998. The date of April 6 was selected in honor of the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, which was signed on this date  in 1320.
The Declaration of Independence created for the United States was modeled on the Scottish document. This isn’t surprising since nearly half of the American signers were of Scottish descent. 


The purpose of National Tartan Day is to commemorate the Scottish Declaration of Arbroath and to recognize the achievements of Americans with Scottish heritage. 

The tartan is a pattern of criss crossing bands in various colors. The first tartans were made of wool. Each clan in Scotland is represented by their own unique tartan. 


As a Lauderdale, I am a member of Clan Maitland. Maitlands have lived near the village of Lauder, in a castle, for centuries. There has been a long line of Earls of Lauderdale living in Thirlestane Castle, although the current earl lives in London. A Maitland that immigrated to America in 1690 took the last name of Lauderdale. 

I have a clan chief, and there are clan members scattered around the world. The Maitland tartan is private. As a clan member, I am allowed to order items made from the official tartan. That is an intention of mine, to purchase a Maitland tartan shawl and eventually a skirt. 


It’s been a fun day, wearing my plaid, checking out various sites to see how other tartan sporting American Scots are celebrating, and in general, having a raised awareness of my heritage and the country that I love so much. 

It has now become a tradition to capture a selfie commemorating National Tartan Day. I’m grateful for my Scottish ancestry and for this yearly opportunity to celebrate my family roots with the wearing of the plaid. 


Journey 96: National Tartan Day

tartan day get your plaid on

What a perfect holiday to celebrate, for me! I don’t know how I missed this celebration last year, however, I am happy to have discovered it in time for this year.

Tartan Day is a recognition and celebration of Scottish heritage. It is celebrated on April 6th each year in the United States. April 6th was chosen to commemorate the date that the Declaration of Arbroath, the declaration of Scottish independence, was signed in 1320.

It is estimated that there are more than 6 million people in the US who claim Scottish descent. Although the first Tartan Day was celebrated in New York in 1982, little was done to follow up the event. In 2004 the National Capital Tartan Day Committee, a group of Scottish-American organizations, lobbied the House of Representatives. The following year, House Resolution 41 was unanimously adopted that designates April 6 as National Tartan Day.

Four years later, President George W Bush signed a Presidential Proclamation. The proclamation reads, in part:

Americans of Scottish descent have made enduring contributions to our Nation with their hard work, faith, and values. On National Tartan Day, we celebrate the spirit and character of Scottish Americans and recognize their many contributions to our culture and our way of life.

Scotland and the United States have long shared ties of family and friendship, and many of our country’s most cherished customs and ideals first grew to maturity on Scotland’s soil. The Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence signed in 1320, embodied the Scots’ strong dedication to liberty, and the Scots brought that tradition of freedom with them to the New World. From the evocative sounds of the bagpipes to the great sport of golf, the Scots have also left an indelible mark on American culture.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 6, 2008, as National Tartan Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day by celebrating the continued friendship between the people of Scotland and the United States and by recognizing the contributions of Scottish Americans to our Nation.

tartan day close up

I celebrated the day by listening to Red Hot Chilli Pipers, a rock bagpipe band, as I drove in the car. And this afternoon, I added my clan tartan to my outfit by draping a tartan scarf around my shoulders and securing it with a thistle brooch. I am a member of the Maitland Clan, which includes Lauderdales. I had the privilege of visiting Lauder, Scotland last year and touring the home of my ancestors, Thirlestane Castle. Distant cousins still occupy the castle today. The plaid I wore this afternoon is actually the Lauder Tartan. The Maitland Tartan is private. I am allowed to wear it, but I must order it online and my membership in the clan will be checked. The shops in Scotland, while they carried many, many other clan tartans, could not carry mine. One of my journeys this year will be to purchase my first Maitland Clan Tartan, in a scarf or shawl or throw. Someday, I’ll own a Maitland Tartan kilt!

Trisha Telep, in her book “The Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance”, humorously wrote, “Any self respecting Scot knows that a good tartan is the solution to everything: it tells you where you are, where you belong, who your friends and family are. Forget the Vikings: those guys just can’t hold a candle to a delicious battle-weary warrior whose fighting skills and wicked sex appeal have spawned a thousand Scottish heartthrobs.”

I smiled over the image that sprang to mind of those delicious battle-weary warriors. And decided it was time to watch another episode of Outlander! I love the part about knowing where you are, where you belong, who your friends and family are. The clan and its tartan are about connection and being a part of something larger than myself, something with ancient roots that sink deeply into the fertile Scottish soil. That’s my clan, and my people. Those are my roots. That’s my homeland. I am Scottish. I am happy to be.

tartan day cindy