Happy Tartan Day, USA

Happy Tartan Day, USA
Source: pdclipart.org

Happy Tartan Day! This is actually a North American celebration, beginning in Canada in the 1980s, but adopted in this country thanks to people who recognized that the Declaration of Arbroath (adopted in the Scottish city of Arbroath in the year 1320) is an ancestor of, and model for, the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

So, before I wrap my MacDonald tartan muffler around my neck and go out into the remaining cold of a Chicago April, I’ll tell you a bit about the Declaration of Arbroath.

According to National Records of Scotland (www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/learning/features/the-declaration-of-arbroath), “The Declaration was written during the long war of independence with England which started with Edward I’s attempt to conquer Scotland in 1296. When the deaths of Alexander III and his granddaughter Margaret, Maid of Norway, left Scotland without a monarch, Edward used the invitation to help choose a successor as an excuse to revive English claims of overlordship. When the Scots resisted, he invaded.”

(Norway? Seriously? I’ll check later! But that’s how deeply the name Margaret goes back in Scottish history, the 13th century.)

England’s King Edward “refused to allow William Wallace’s victory at Stirling Bridge in 1297 to derail his campaign.” (You remember Stirling Bridge, fellow “Braveheart” watchers — “They can take our lives, but they’ll never take our FREEDOM!” is apocryphal, but still powerful stuff.)

The diplomatic niceties of battling the English, with whom they wouldn’t unite until 16o3 (when James VI of Scotland became James I of Great Britain), and how the declaration was actually meant as a letter to the pope, asking him to acknowledge Scottish independence, can be glossed over at this point as longer than what I want to achieve in this post.

I want to call more attention to the glorious words the barons who put their seals on the declaration put into the document. (Yes, they sealed it. This was so long ago that such things weren’t signed.) Here’s the best part:

 “It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honors, that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

Let freedom ring. Happy Tartan Day!

Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.



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  • Happy Tartan Day, my friend. Scotland forever. Except for the haggis.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    And also to you, thank you. No offense taken about the haggis -- that's just more for me! (I was served vegetarian haggis once by a cousin, partly because she wanted to try it -- and partly because she wanted to see the look on my face, then get a letter about the look on Dad's face when I told him about it. The look was a classic for both of us.)

  • 1. A standard case study from marketing class is that McDonald's used a tartan in Scotland that was not from the McDonald clan.
    2. On the "maid of Norway," I don't know of her personally, but there were in the past week several PBS shows on how the Vikings settled the Shetland Islands (cf. the prior discussion on The Quark). When a guy with a Scottish accent was asked what happened to them, he said "they are still here, just intermarried." And, of course, both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are descended from the King of Denmark, being related when King [Bertie] Edward VII married a Danish princess.
    3. With Brexit still up in the air, I don't know if the First Minister of Scotland is still seeking independence to stay in the EU.

  • On point 1, that's an easy mistake for me to explain -- McDonald is the Irish spelling, MacDonald is the Scottish one.
    Point 2, she's not the same as Saint Margaret, who in this life was Queen of Scotland -- no kidding, check Britannica.com or your nearest reference book. That Margaret was born around 1045 (the year, not the time), about 200 years before Margaret, the maid of Norway, who was also queen of Scotland -- but who died at age 8. Yes, there are a lot of links between Scotland and Norway that go back that far -- but look at the map. The Orkney Islands are like Norway's South Side.
    As for point 3, Brexit tales seem to change by the day. I'm simply hoping that the United Kingdom can stay united thorough this mess, whatever happens.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    1 wasn't a statement about spelling, it was about tartan plaid, which at least was the subject of your headline. While I got the information from a book, this source has the same account. And, regardless of spelling, it happened in Scotland. However, the article is incorrect that McDonalds started in Des Plaines, IL. The first outlet franchised by Ray Kroc was there, but the McDonald brothers had their stand in California.

    2. Only point was that the maid of Norway probably was Norwegian.

  • Yes, sorry about the tartan confusion, but the MacDonald is my family's tartan, so that hit close to home (and I don't mean Illinois in this sense).
    The maid of Norway evidently was Norwegian -- somehow, she's a little new to me among famous Margarets. Another "watch this space" idea.

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