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Scottish~American Day
06 April 2021

The American Community Survey, compiled between 2008 and 2012 and being the most recent analysis, identified 1% of the total population of Bedford County as descending from Scottish ancestors.

This day is known as National Tartan Day. It celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. The Declaration was sent to Pope John XXII and declared Scotland to be an independent and sovereign nation.

The observance of the day as a holiday was started in Canada in April 1987 when it was proclaimed as such by Nova Scotia. It had been suggested by the Federation of Scottish Clans during the meeting held in Nova Scotia on 9 March 1986. In 1991 the Ontario Legislature also proclaimed the day as a holiday. In the United States, the Scottish Coalition USA lobbied Congress in 1997 to follow Canada's lead and adopt a National Tartan Day. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution declaring the day as a holiday in 1998.

The text of Senate Resolution 155, submitted by Senator Trent Lott and passed on 20 March 1998 read as follows: "S. RES. 155 Whereas April 6 has a special significance for all Americans, and especially those Americans of Scottish descent, because the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, was signed on April 6, 1320 and the American Declaration of Independence was modeled on that inspirational document; Whereas this resolution honors the major role that Scottish Americans played in the founding of this Nation, such as the fact that almost half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent, the Governors in 9 of the original 13 States were of Scottish ancestry, Scottish Americans successfully helped shape this country in its formative years and guide this Nation through its most troubled times; Whereas this resolution recognizes the monumental achievements and invaluable contributions made by Scottish Americans that have led to America's preeminence in the fields of science, technology, medicine, government, politics, economics, architecture, literature, media, and visual and performing arts; Whereas this resolution commends the more than 200 organizations throughout the United States that honor Scottish heritage, tradition, and culture, representing the hundreds of thousands of Americans of Scottish descent, residing in every State, who already have made the observance of Tartan Day on April 6 a success; and Whereas these numerous individuals, clans, societies, clubs, and fraternal organizations do not let the great contributions of the Scottish people go unnoticed: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate designates April 6 of each year as 'National Tartan Day'."

The establishment of national holidays celebrating the 6th of April as Tartan Day spread throughout the Scottish Diaspora from the 1990s through the early years of the 21st Century. The Scottish Diaspora includes (in descending rates of population) the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Argentina, Chile, France, Poland, New Zealand, South Africa, Isle of Man, Hong Kong and Brazil. Scotland, herself, got around to establishing National Tartan Day in 2004.

Tartan Day is widely celebrated in the United States because of the great numbers of people of Scottish descent. In some locations, athletes compete in what are called 'Highland Games.' Activities include tossing the caber, a long log; the stone put, throwing a stone weighing twenty to twenty-six pounds; the hammer throw, a sixteen to twenty-two pound ball attached to a four feet long handle; and no doubt a crowd favorite: the sheaf toss, the hefting over a raised bar of a twenty pound bundle of straw with a pitchfork. In just about all locations, whether there are highland games or not, Scottish~Americans enjoy bagpipe music and feasting on traditional Scottish foods. The Tartan Day Parade held in New York City is one of the largest events held in the United States where you can certainly get your fill of bagpipe music. Marching in traditional Scottish kilts are nearly 1,500 pipers and drummers along with ladies dancing traditional Scottish dances such as the ceilidh.

Tartan Day dinners consist of many dishes that non-Scottish~Americans have probably heard of but never tried. Haggis has got to be the most famous of all Scottish foods, but it is probably a safe bet that most people have never tried it ~ at least in its authentic form. That is because it has been illegal in the United States since 1971. The USDA has banned authentic haggis because its ingredients include sheep lungs. In addition to the lungs, the sheep's liver, heart and tongue would be diced up and mixed with oatmeal, minced onion, suet and spices all stuffed in a sheep's stomach, or sausage casing, and boiled. The result is a sausage-like very spicy dish. Haggis is often paired with neeps and tatties which are the names for turnips and potatoes. Cock-a-leekie soup, is a soup consisting of chicken stock thickened with rice or barley and leeks. A baked dish consisting of potatoes, cabbage and onions is rumbledethumps. Stovies is a dish made up of roast and minced meat mixed with potatoes somewhat on the order of corned beef hash. Stovies is often highly seasoned with spices. Another kind of soup or stew, Scotch broth is composed of lamb or mutton (sometimes beef) and root vegetables and barley. The 'secret ingredient' of Scotch broth is any type of 'pulse' or legumes, such as beans or chick peas. To go along with the various soups is bannock, a type of flat bread. Bannock is prepared in a skillet from unsweetened oat or barley flour. Scotland, being a sea-bound country, has many dishes using fish or other seafood as its main ingredient. Kippered (i.e. smoked) herring is known around the world and usually eaten cold. Less well known might be finnan haddie which is cold-smoked haddock that is roasted or grilled and sometimes used in fish-based soups. Crappit heid is a boiled fish head filled with liver, suet and oats. Desert might take the form of clootie dumplings / pudding. Prepared like a plum pudding, the dish gets its name from the 'cloot' or cloth in which it is wrapped to be cooked. Flour, oatmeal and suet is mixed with treacle, for which corn syrup may be substituted, along with milk, eggs, baking powder, cinnamon and raisins and currants to form a dough. The dough is formed into a ball and then placed in the center of a piece of cloth whose corners are gathered together and tied. The ball is placed in a pot of water and simmered for three hours. The result is a traditional pudding that is sprinkled with powdered sugar and eaten with custard or ice cream.

In reviewing the traditional Scottish foods, we must not leave without noting the beverage that is symbolic of Scottish heritage ~ whisky. Malt barley or other grain was distilled into alcohol to produce whisky. What is unique about Scottish whisky is that the name is spelled without the 'e' between the 'k' and the 'y'. Scotland's heritage of using their unique spelling has developed into an entitlement in which it is understood by all whiskey distillers that only the alcoholic beverage produced in Scotland may use that spelling of the name. All other producers respect Scotland's prerogative and out of that respect use the 'whiskey' spelling.

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