Weaving of The Declaration of Scottish Independence, Arbroath 1320 tartan
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
Makin' The Tartan
April 6th, Tartan Day, is an official celebration held mainly in the United States and Canada, in recognition of many of the population's Scottish Heritage.
April 6th was chosen to mark the anniversary of the Declaration of Scottish Independence at Arbroath in 1320.
Canada estimates around 4.7 million Canadians claiming Scottish descent, while in the United States, it is estimated that there are 6 million people who claiming Scottish ancestry.
The English word "tartan" is most likely derived from the French tartarin meaning "Tartar cloth". It has also been suggested that "tartan" may be derived from modern Scottish Gaelic tarsainn, meaning "across".
There are an increasing number US states with their own official tartan while in Canada, almost all of Canada's provinces and territories have their own tartan. To view these tartans, visit Curious and Unusual Tartans, a sister website.
Tartan as a textile goes back much further than originally thought. American textile archaeologist Elizabeth Barber thoroughly investigated the Mummies of Ürümchi to find archaeological proof of tartan or plaid twill, dating this pattern back more than three thousand years ago!
See below for the dance cribs and a video of this dance by the RSCDS-Vancouver demonstration team, which mimics the action of a weaver's loom, click the lady at the standing loom.
And for more about the fascinating archaeology of plaid and tartan weaving, click the reproduction of a plaid found on mummies at Tarim, in present-day Xinjiang, China, which dates from 1800 BCE to the first centuries BCE. The mummies had remnants of plaid leggings, blond, red, and deep brown hair, which was long, curly and braided!
Happy Tartan Day to wearers and weavers alike!