“One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honour or observation.”
― Walter Scott
So sayeth the Scottsman!
Sir Walter Scott was the man who created not only the infamous trilogy, Ivanhoe, but he was also the inspiration for Tartan Day, believe it or not!
Sir Walter Scott’s passion for romantic medieval history began in his youth, when he had suffered through a bout of polio and was sent to his aunt Jenny’s house for treatment. Jenny read him tales and stories about Brittain’s legends, figures and battles from yesteryear.
From then on, he devoted his life to the printed word, culminating in the rich pages of Ivanhoe which brought back to life the life of medieval Brittain, Richard the Lionheart, Robin of Locksley and the noble Saxon family of Ivahnoe.
However, in his later years Sir Walter Scott believed that the nation of Scotland needed something even more than an epic novel for its literary history.
Scotland needed a day to celebrate the tartans which clothed the lands.
In 1822 when King George IV visited Scotland for the first time, Sir Walter Scott managed to create a parade of tartans for HRH.
“When prescription of tartan was repealed, there was an upsurge in its use, even by Lowland Scots. So when Sir Walter Scott stage-managed the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822, tartans, kilts and bagpipes burgeoned. “
Tartan Day has been celebrated with great flourish ever since!
It says the origins of Tartan Day is 1998…and although this is officially true, according to the official records, the first parade was in 1822. Tartan day has hosted Scottish notorieties such as Sir Sean Connery and Michael Bloomberg. They also acknowledge the Tartan Day of Canada, and their expatriot Scottish brethren!
The history of the Tartan cloth is as intricately woven as the history of Scotland: filled with brave souls and partnered with broadswords. The tartan was originally the day to day wear for Highlanders, particularly during the period after The Dress Act of 1746, ordered by George III. The lowland Scots, being closer to England, complied with the official order, as breaking this law would have them plucked out of Scotland and shipped off to “his royal majesty’s plantations beyond the seas.” However, Highlanders, being Highlanders, refused to comply, and thus the tartan became the symbol of Scottish liberty and freedom.
As you can see, if you want to understand the Scottish soul, you kind of have to understand the history of Scotland. From understanding the importance of Hadrian’s wall, to the Declaration of Arbroath which signed Scotland’s freedom and independence in 1320 (it didn’t last long. They’re still working on it), to seeing how indiscriminately incorrect Braveheart was…the history of Scotland is anything but boring!
There is more than just haggis!! Now, I will be honest with you: I have made haggis before. It is smelly, and ugly, and it tastes like fermented liver. But somehow…in an endearing way. But don’t stop there! You must try the Caledonian Cream!!
Finally. There is a proper way to make tea. And there is an improper way to make tea. All I’m saying, is that if you ever visit Scotland and you leave your teabag in your cup while you are drinking it, they might pluck you out of Scotland and send you off to work on her royal majesty’s plantations beyond the seas. It’s kinda a big deal over there.