It’s National Tartan Day. I’m proud to say I have the bloodline to wear a few different Scottish tartans. My father was a Carmichael, his grandmother was a McIntyre and they could prove lineage back through the Royal Stewarts. In the old days, I’m talking 1700 and 1800’s, a tartan was a visible sign of where one lived, and who that person was loyal to. Wearing a tartan you didn’t have the bloodline to claim was a punishable offense.
I lived in England from September 1974 – April 1977. My Aunt Ruth Carmichael came to visit the summer of 1976. I was talking with her about wanting to get a coat made with the McIntyre Tartan. She asked, “Why not the Royal Stewart?” then explained that it was acceptable to wear the tartan of the highest ranking family you could prove. I was elated, the Royal Stewart Tartan is bright and attractive. I got that coat, and wore it until the butt was thread bare. I even got stopped on the street one day in Thetford, Norfolk, England, and asked if I had the bloodline to wear it. How fun it was to say yes and know what I was talking about.
. Royal Stewart Tartan
If you study tartans, you will learn that there are two or three plaids that “belong” to each family. One is worn for everyday and another for dress-up occasions. They were woven in cotton for summer wear and in wool for the winter.
Of course when I see a tartan, my mind jumps to bagpipes. I always wanted to learn to play them. I’ve been told I have enough hot air to do so. Anyway, on our recent visit to New Orleans, weren’t we surprised when one of the musicians that had been playing all of the woodwind instruments, and the harmonica, turned from the crowd, and turned back around playing a jazz harmony on the bagpipes. Everyone’s mouth dropped open. I wouldn’t have believed it was possible had I not seen, and heard, it myself. What a treat.
These days anybody can wear a tartan plaid, but if you are in Great Britain, don’t be surprised if you get questioned.