Tartan Day celebrates the existing and historical links between Scotland and Scottish descendants overseas. In the United States there are over 11 million people who claim Scots descent, and most take pride in the transatlantic connection. In North America, Tartan Day is held on April 6, the anniversary of the date on which the Declaration of Arbroath was created in 1320, whereas in Australia and New Zealand, it is held on July 1, the anniversary of the repeal of the Act of Proscription in 1782.
Tartan Day was first proposed by Jean Watson, who petitioned throughout Canada for its recognition. Nova Scotia was the first to celebrate in 1987, with gradually all provinces recognising the day/event. In 1998, the US Senate officially recognised the date of 6 April as a celebration for the contribution made by generations of Scots-Americansto the foundation and prosperity of modern America.
The date is significant as it commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, the first known formal Declaration of independence. Not only was the United States Declaration of Independence modelled on that document, but almost half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent and the Governors in 9 of the original 13 States were of Scottish ancestry.
Tartan Day is now firmly part of the North American calendar. Supporters of the event call it a signal of the strengthening Scots-Canadian/American relationship in the 21st century. The Tunes of Glory Parade in 2002 saw 10,000 pipers and drummers march through the streets of New York. Each year, pipers prepare for this event! They are the centrepiece of the event where thousands of Americans celebrate their links to Scotland. One of Scotland’s national treasures, William Wallace’s sword, left Scotland for the first time in 700 years and was flown to New York for the Tartan Week celebrations of 2005. Equally large events are held in Washington DC and other places in the US and Canada.