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Celebrating Burns Night: A Look At Scottish Tartan

Posted on: 6th Jan, 2017

As well as heralding in a new year, January is also the month of Burns Night, a much-anticipated event in Scotland that celebrates the life and work of prolific Scottish poet Robert Burns. Some great Scottish hallmarks make their appearances – among them haggis, bagpipes, and that most recognisable symbol of them all: tartan. As the people of Scotland gears up for their yearly get-togethers, we’re taking a look at what Burns Night is all about, and taking a closer look at tartan’s massive influence on modern fashion.

Burns Night: Celebrating Culture and History

pile of tartan fabrics

Falling on January 25th of every year (the great man’s birthday), the style and mood of the event can vary, depending on who the celebrants are; Burns Nights can range from formal, dignified affairs to rowdy, uproarious parties. However, all Burns Nights generally have a few things in common, most of them to do with commemorating the national history and identity of Scotland. Generally this includes eating a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of whisky, and recitation of works by – or in the spirit of – the Bard himself. Frequently, Scottish cultural hallmarks like bagpipes and haggis also make an appearance in the proceedings.

How Tartan Has Shaped Contemporary Fashion

tartan cotton shirt

Image Credit: Brown Bag Clothing

One of the country’s most enduring national symbols is the tartan pattern. It originated with the legendary Scottish clans, soon becoming an integral part of the average Highlander’s everyday clothing. They used their clan patterns not only to distinguish friend or foe, but also to develop their clan’s sense of identity; soon, other tartan patterns were developed for mourning or hunting, as well as a variety of other ceremonial purposes.

Clan Gordon is one such clan, one of the oldest in existence. Its clan tartan has strong ties to the Scottish military, and has been worn by the Gordon Highlanders and the 10th Finchley Scottish Scout Group – both regiments in the British Army. Our own Gordon Tartan Fabric is a lightweight cotton version, a strong and vibrant colour that appropriately honours its ancient heritage.

Wearing Tartan Your Way

black and red cotton tartan fabric

Today, there are thousands of different tartan patterns in existence, and their influence on the world of fashion is undeniable. Many forms of tartan (or plaid, as the Americans refer to it) are instantly associated with Scotland – especially ceremonial patterns. However, tartan is also a common material for cotton shirts, ties, and overcoats. Tartan is one of those rare gems – there are few other materials that can claim to have made such a significant cultural impact across the globe.

If you have any Scottish heritage, wearing tartan can be a fantastic way to honour that, as indeed many do. However, different ancestry is far from a barrier to wearing it. It’s a brilliantly simple way of injecting a bit of colour into your wardrobe without going overboard, and its sheer variety of different styles and patterns make it an extremely versatile material, wherever and however you wear it. You can read more about the best ways to wear tartan here, or you can go straight to our fabrics and start browsing our tartan range of fabrics now.

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