Tartan Day is a North American celebration of Scottish heritage on April 6, the date on which the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320. It originated in Canada in the mid-1980s. It spread to other communities of the Scottish diaspora in the 1990s.
In Australia, the similar International Tartan Day is held on July 1, the anniversary of the repeal of the 1747 Act of Proscription that banned the wearing of tartan.
The aim of Tartan Day is to help Australians reconnect with their Scottish ancestry. To learn more about international tartan day, Keepincalendar put together everything you need to know.
International Tartan Day
International Tartan Day in Australia and New Zealand is celebrated on a local basis in most states on July 1, the anniversary of the Repeal Proclamation of 1782 annulling the Act of Proscription of 1747, which had made wearing tartan an offense punishable with up to seven years’ transportation.
According to Scottish House secretary Moyna Scotland, the tendency to disguise Scottish associations was mirrored in Australia: ‘Scots did what they were told to do when they came to Australia assimilate and integrate and they almost disappeared, and consequently one aim of Tartan Day is to help Australians reconnect with their Scottish ancestry.
A tartan revival started in 1822, and now many of the Australian States, as well as the Commonwealth of Australia itself, have their own tartans.
In 1989 the Scottish Australian Heritage Council began to encourage Australians to wear tartan on July 1, when more than half a million Australians gather for a celebration of Scottish heritage, combining nostalgia with Australian citizenship ceremonies, and fund-raising for charitable causes such as drought assistance.
Australians without a family tartan are invited to wear the Royal Stewart tartan or the military tartan of the Black Watch. Tartan articles worn on the day include hats, ties, and socks.
There are many pipe band associations in both Australia and New Zealand, some originating in disbanded Second World War army battalions, and almost 30 heritage events in Australia alone.
Some clans, notably the McLeods of South Australia, come together in private events to honor their chief, recite Burns, consume haggis and take part in Highland dancing. A butcher in Maclean, New South Wales, ‘the Scottish town in Australia’, reportedly celebrates the day by selling haggis burgers.
Since 2001 the Scottish Australian Heritage Council and the Australian branch of the Scottish National Party have petitioned Canberra for federal recognition of International Tartan Day to celebrate the Scottish contribution to Australian history, including the influence of Scottish radicalism on the trade union movement and the Labor Party, and Australia’s allegedly ‘egalitarian and meritocratic society.
In 2008 Linda Fabiani, the then Scottish culture minister floated a proposal to expand the Australian event into an official Scotland Week as part of the Scottish government’s international business strategy.