Tartan day is a modern celebration of Scottish Heritage and is held annually on April 6th, the same date in 1320 when the Declaration of Arbroath was signed, declaring Scottish Independence and Sovereignty. The largest celebration of Tartan Day is in New York where up to 30,000 people have been known to attend. Smaller events are held elsewhere around the world, but sadly very few in Scotland which should be the focal point of the celebrations.
This year, I was unable to find an official event in Scotland that I could attend, so to celebrate tartan day, I decided to visit a small church in the village of Fowlis Wester which lies just four miles from Crieff where I live. The church is known as St Bean’s Kirk and has a history going back over a thousand years.
My reason for the visit was to view a piece of tartan that could be described as ‘out of this world.’ It was donated to the church by the American Astronaut Commander Alan Bean who flew the Apollo mission to the moon in November 1969 and to celebrate his Scottish heritage he carried a piece of MacBean tartan with him to the moon and back.
Alan Bean was proud of his Scottish Heritage and this was reflected in his decision to carry a piece of tartan on his mission to the moon. On his return, he donated one piece to St Bean’s Kirk and the other piece to the Scottish Tartan Authority for safe keeping.
We have a saying in Scotland ‘Forrit the Tartan’ the word forrit meaning forward. There is perhaps no better example of taking forward the tartan than Alan Bean’s decision to take a piece of tartan to the moon and back. It shows the depth of feeling for our Scottish Heritage and our connection to this iconic and internationally known piece of cloth.
Forrit the Tartan.
Hector MacAulay, Clan Chief