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Tartan is one of the most recognizable patterns ever, and has a strong history for the people of Scotland. National Tartan Day was created to celebrate Scottish history and the achievements of people of Scottish descent around the world. While some areas hold marches and parades, other people simply celebrate it amongst themselves. For anyone who has ever been interested in Scottish history, National Tartan Day is just a great opportunity to research and learn.

Get ready to celebrate National Tartan Day!

History of National Tartan Day

National Tartan Day was initiated in the mid-1980s by the Scottish diaspora living in Canada at a meeting of the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia. By 1997, the idea for the day had been approved and the annual celebration began to grow into other Scottish communities in North America and Australia.

By 1997, the idea for the day had spread to the United States and National Tartan Day was approved by the US Congress and President, and it was first celebrated the following year on April 6.

The reason for the celebration of the day on April 6 is because that is the date in 1320 when the Scottish King Robert I signed the Declaration of Arbroath. This was a letter written to Pope John XXII, responding to his excommunication from the church because he refused to stop fighting for Scottish Independence.

National Tartan Day Timeline

200-300 AD

Scots start wearing Tartan 

Sometimes confused with the word “Plaid” (meaning blanket), Tartan is the specific pattern woven both horizontally and vertically into the fabric.[1]


Declaration of Arbroath is signed 

A letter is written, on April 6, by King Robert I, responding to Pope John XXII’s demands that Scotland sign a truce in the first War of Scottish Independence.[2]


Act of Proscription takes effect

In an effort to assimilate the people of Great Britain and crush the Clans, the government makes it so that the Scottish people could not revolt–and are not even allowed to wear their Tartans.[3]


First National Tartan Day is proposed in Canada 

This day is proposed for April 6 to promote Scottish Heritage in Canada, originating in Nova Scotia, which means “New Scotland”.[4]


Tartan Day is adopted in the United States 

The Scottish Coalition USA met the previous year to propose following in Canada’s footsteps and Tartan Day passes legislation in Congress during this year.[5]

How to Celebrate National Tartan Day

Although National Tartan Day was originally created to celebrate Scottish history, there is no reason people of non-Scottish heritage cannot join in the fun. Try out some of these fun ideas for celebrating this exciting day:

Wear a Tartan for National Tartan Day

While many people in the English language refer to tartan as “plaid”, this is a misnomer. The term “plaid” is actually Gaelic for a blanket. The correct term for the vertical and horizontal stripes that are woven into the fabric is “tartan”.

Whether it be a scarf, skirt or even a kilt, show a bit of love for the fabric that never goes out of fashion this National Tartan Day by incorporating it into the day’s outfit. Those who have Scottish roots can choose the color and pattern of tartan that most represents the clan from which they descend.

Listen to Scottish Music for National Tartan Day

For those who do not especially fancy wearing tartan on this day, it would always be possible to celebrate by digging out an old classic from Bay City Rollers, the “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh” and singing along to Bye Bye Baby! Or put on some tunes from twin brothers, Craig and Charlie Reid, otherwise known as The Proclaimers. Alternatively, this would be the right time to enjoy listening to some bagpipe music!

Enjoy Some Scottish Treats for National Tartan Day

In addition to simply donning some sort of tartan garment, this would be a great day to have some friends over to enjoy a bit of Scottish Fun! In addition to listening to some Scottish music, as mentioned above, enjoy some food that would be traditional to Scotland, such as Walkers Shortbread cookies which often feature tartan on the packages. Other treats might be haggis, oat cakes, “neeps and tatties”, Scottish pies or Irn Bru.

Join in on a Celtic Festival

Many Scottish communities throw festivals or parades in celebration of this day. For instance, the Tartan Day South Celtic Festival takes place in South Carolina each year. In New York City, Tartan Day is celebrated all throughout the week with a wide selection of events, including a 10K run around Central Park.

In addition, many pubs and bars that have Scottish roots will often host celebrations and offer discounts in honor of National Tartan Day, so be sure to check those out locally as well.

Of course, perhaps the best place to celebrate National Tartan Day might be to head on over to Scotland for a visit!

National Tartan Day FAQs

What is National Tartan Day?

National Tartan Day is a time set aside to celebrate Scottish Heritage, particularly in North America.[1]

When is National Tartan Day?

National Tartan Day is celebrated on April 6 in Canada and the United States and on August 1 in Australia.[2]

Why is National Tartan Day on April 6?

Canada and the United States proposed National Tartan Day for April 6 because it is the day that the Declaration of Arbroath was signed.[3]

Is National Tartan Day a holiday?

National Tartan Day is celebrated as a recognized holiday in Canada and the United States, as well as Australia, though the date may be different.[4]

How to celebrate National Tartan Day?

A great way to observe National Tartan Day is to enjoy celebrating all things Scottish, including wearing a Tartan or even visiting Scotland.[5]

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