Tartan Day – the history behind it
The History behind 1 July Tartan Day
On the 1 July every year many countries around the world where there are Scots descendents, someone will be celebrating Tartan Day.
The Battle of Culloden of 1746 was the final battle of the Jacobite Rebellion also known as the 45. The Jacobites sought to install the ‘Young Pretender’, Bonnie Prince Charlie on the thrones of Scotland and England but their plans were thwarted with the terrible slaughter of both the battle and its aftermath. The famous ‘Skye Boat Song’ which many of us learnt as children, (Speed Bonnie Boat like a bird on the wing etc) tells of the mysterious escape of the young Prince ‘over the sea to Skye’
“The Act of Proscription” Which was passed in 1747 forbade the Highlanders to wear Tartan, play the pipes, or carry weapons – and was effectively the final death knell for the clan based way of life that had existed in the Highlands for over a thousand years.
However, eventually, the British army would realise that amongst the ranks of the young, dispossessed highland warriors, the tartan and the pipes were of special significance for maintaining morale…
And do on 1 July 1782, 4o years and two generations after the infamous ban, the “Act of Proscription” was repealed, making it lawful once again for Schottish Highlanders to wear tartan and play the pipes. Since then the anniversary of the Repeal Proclamation’ has been annually celebrated as tartan day.
Waipu Began Celebrating Tartan Day as part of its Winter@waipu programme since 2006 www.waipu-tartan.co.nz
How did Waipu begin celebrating International Tartan Day?
Rosemary Neave as an accommodation provider in the area and a member of the Waipu Business and Promotions Group has gone to some seminars about seasonality in Northland communities. We thrive as a summer location, but in the winter it is harder for local shops and accommodation businesses to keep going through the winter.
So the idea of Winter@Waipu was born – a festival spreading over June, July and August each year. In organising a calendar of events, Rosemary searched for other festivals that might be happening around the time that we could join in on. So, among others, we became a part of Matariki celebrations and National Poetry Day. In looking internationally, Rosemary stumbled upon International Tartan Day – which seemed a fabulous fit for this small scottish village.
Since then it has grown to a week, then a fortnight, and eventually it took over Winter@waipu as our winter festival. A few weeks in July was much more manageable that 3 months for a festival. ArtnTartan Wearable Arts was developed as a major focus by the Waipu Museum and, as they say, the rest is history.
In 2013 Rosemary said she could no longer organise the programme, so Sarah Archer and Nikki Collins have taken up the reigns, still working with the Waipu Business and Promotions Group and with some support from the Whangarei District Council.
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