"There are hundreds of tartans so lovely to see
And many a famous has graced the bare knee
And the sett that I wear is both ancient and braw
It's the pride o' my heart and the dearest of a'"
~ The Tartan, Sydney Bell
National Tartan Day, held each year on April 6 in the United States and Canada, celebrates the historical links between Scotland and North America and the contributions Scottish Americans and Canadians have made to US and Canadian democracy, industry and society. The number of Americans of Scottish descent today is estimated to be 20 to 25 million and Scotch-Irish 27 to 30 million! Scottish Place names abound in every province and in almost every state. There are even many literary and cartoon characters that claim Scottish descent including The Outlaw Josey Wales, Batman, Archie Andrews, Donald Duck, and even Woody Woodpecker!
"A sudden thought strikes me; let us swear eternal friendship." ~ John Hookam Frere (1769-1846)
Tartan Day is a celebration of Scottish heritage on the 6th April, the date on which the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320. This holiday originated in Canada in 1986, was formally adopted in 1991, and spread to other communities of the Scottish diaspora.
In the United States, Tartan Day was adopted and officially proclaimed as a national holiday in 2008 after many years of lobbying starting in the 1990s. From the official proclamation:
"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."
From the designer's notes:
"This tartan was designed as a tribute to the people from Scotland who risked everything they possessed and who endured many hardships in pursuit of a better life in North America. The colours selected had significance to the designer; red, white and blue for the colours of the national flags of Canada and the USA; deep blue for dark times; bright red a tribute to the great achievements."
For a fascinating blog focussing on the Scottish diaspora, click the commemorative postage stamp from 1973 showing the "Arrival of Scottish Settlers, Pictou, N.S.".