Tartan Day celebrates 25 years

Dozens of plaid-clad admirers gathered in the lobby of Province House Wednesday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Tartan Day.

The event began in Nova Scotia and celebrates Scottish culture and heritage worldwide. Last month, the federal government declared tartan a Canadian symbol.

By Torey Ellis

One of the youngest members of the Halifax Highland Dance Association prepares to show off her moves (Torey Ellis photo).

Dozens of plaid-clad admirers gathered in the lobby of Province House Wednesday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Tartan Day.

The event began in Nova Scotia and celebrates Scottish culture and heritage worldwide. Last month, the federal government declared tartan a Canadian symbol.

Tom Wallace, the president of the Federation for Scottish Culture in Nova Scotia, says the day is “an expression of who we, the Scottish of Nova Scotia, are as a community.”

The festivities started off with a fiddle and piano performance by Maggie Jane and Cassie MacDonald. These teens regularly perform around the peninsula and have represented Nova Scotia internationally as well.

Watch Jane and MacDonald perform.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96Lqs9JLyLs

A big crowd favourite was the Halifax Highland Dance Association, a group of girls ranging in age from kindergarten to high school. Their traditional dances, such as the Seann Truibhas, the Sword, and the Lilt, drew the biggest applause of the day.

“These are young ladies learning cultural appreciation at a very young age,” says Wallace. “That’ll stay with them their whole lives.”

Between the performances, co-host Mel Baird read a poem and George Forbes of the first Battalion, Nova Scotia Highlanders, told the crowd of Scottish Canadian military exploits from the Plains of Abraham to World War II. The Highlanders celebrate their 140th anniversary this year.

Listen to Mel Baird read “The Kilt’s My Delight,” by Neil Munro and hear the music that the celebrations brought.
Tartan Day

A group students from the Gaelic program at Citadel High School watched the entertainment. Later, Wallace presented each of them with a ceremonial tartan pin.

Carol Creaser, who attended the event, says she loved the piping and the dancing but wishes that the day had been better advertised.

“It signifies all our heritage,” she says. “I think it should have been out there a few days earlier.”

External links
Federation for Scottish Culture
Halifax Highland Dance Association
International Gathering of the Clans

In reply, Wallace says that the society is “an entirely volunteer-run association, so resources are a problem,” although he plans to take better advantage of Twitter and Facebook next year.

Next, the federation will be hosting the International Gathering of the Clans in June and July, when more than 60 Scottish-themed events will be held throughout Nova Scotia.

Wallace says all the celebrations that the federation puts on are open to more than just those of Scottish descent.

“We’re an open society,” he says. “I mean, three of those dancers are Polish. If you want to be a part of it, we want you to be a part of it.”