Tartan or Plaid – What’s the Difference?

Celebrating Tartan Day on April 6 in Canada and Beyond

You Say Plaid, I Say Tartan
A tartan is a pattern of criss-crossing horizontal and vertical stripes, of multiple widths and colours. Originally made of woven wool, the tartans of today are made with various textiles. Tartans are specifically associated with Scotland, and Scottish kilts usually have tartan patterns. Often called “plaid” in North America, a plaid in Scotland refers to a tartan cloth worn over the shoulder, as an accessory, or a plain blanket for a bed.

Tartans – Source: www.awarenessdays.com/us/

Tartan Day Observed in Canada and Around the World
Tartan Day is celebrated by Scots around the world. In Canada, about 13% or 4.8 million[1] people are of Scottish descent. In the US, between 8% and 10%[2] of the population claims to be of Scottish descent. Argentina’s population includes approximately 100,000[3] people of Scottish descent, which is the largest population of Scots in a non-English-speaking country.

Kirkin of the Tartans – Source: standrewsoftampabay.org

National Tartan Day was first proposed at a meeting of the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia, in 1986. During this meeting, the following motion was put forward: “That we establish a day known as Tartan Day. This is to be a day chosen to promote Scottish Heritage by the most visible means. The wearing of the Scottish attire, especially in places where the kilt is not ordinarily worn, i.e.: work, play or worship.” Then, in 2010, the Minister of Canadian Heritage officially declared April 6 to be Tartan Day in Canada. This date was chosen because it was on this date in 1320 that the Declaration of Arbroath (the Scottish Declaration of Independence) was signed.

Canadian, Provincial & Territorial Tartans – Source: clanmunroassociation.ca/cantartans.htm

The Maple Leaf Tartan
On March 9, 2011, the Maple Leaf Tartan was declared an official national symbol of Canada. This tartan was created by David Weiser, in 1964, in preparation of the 100th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada (1967).The Maple Leaf Tartan is a symbol of Canadian pride, worn by Canadians of every heritage and ethnicity, on important national days such as Tartan Day and Canada Day. Based on the colours of the maple leaf, throughout four distinct seasons, the tartan’s pattern reflects the greens of summer, the gold of early fall, the red colour of the season of the first frost, and finally, the brown of the leaves on the ground before the arrival of winter.[4] To show just how important this tartan is, as an official national symbol of Canada, other official symbols include: the maple tree, the Royal Coat of Arms of Canada, the Canada flag, and the beaver.

Royal Coat of Arms of Canada

Tartan Day Events Across Canada
There are so many Tartan Day events going on across Canada, and we found a few to share! Get your tartan on and celebrate Scottish heritage and pride at an event in your community!

Red Deer Scottish Country Dance Workshop and Ball
Friday, April 6 – Sunday, April 8, 2018
Red Deer, Alberta
Classes will be available in two levels, including Beginner/Intermediate, and Social.
For more information, visit the Red Deer Scottish Country Dancers website.

VanIsle Workshop and Ball
Saturday, April 7, 2018
Victoria, British Columbia
Presented by the Vancouver Island Scottish Country Dance Society
For more information, visit the  Vancouver Island Scottish Country Dance Society website.

A Ceilidh at Cartier Square
Saturday, April 7, 2018
Ottawa, Ontario
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the RCMP Tartan, and the National Pipe Band.
For more information, visit the Scottish Society of Ottawa website.

National Tartan Day Celebration
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Ottawa, Ontario
Join the Sons of Scotland Pipe Band at a concert celebrating Scottish heritage on Parliament Hill.
For more information, visit the Sons of Scotland Pipe Band website.

Maple Leaf Tartan Flag

Want to Know Where to Get Your Tartan Flags or Scottish Flags?
All Flag Shop locations across Canada carry Tartan flags, and Scotland flags known also as the St. Andrew’s Cross, or the Saltire, and the Royal Standard of Scottish flags. If decals and lapel pins are more your thing, we’ve got those, too! Need a tartan? Whatever you can imagine, we’ve got more, and we’re here to help you celebrate Tartan Day, and its rich Scottish heritage!

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Happy Tartan Day!

[1] 2016 Census – Canada – Ethnic Origins of Population

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Americans

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartan_Day

[4] https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/official-symbols-canada.html

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