The Scottish national costume (Highland dress) includes a kilt worn by men. For day wear, the kilt is worn with a tweed jacket, plain long socks, a beret and a leather sporran, that is, a pouch hanging from a narrow belt round the hips. The Scottish beret - tam-o'-shanter - is a woollen cap without a brim but with a pompon or a feather on top, traditionally worn pulled down at one side. It got its name after Tam o' Shanter, the hero of Burns's poem of that name.
The Gaelic word "clan" means "children", and the central idea of a clan is kinship. Nowadays it refers, as a rule, only to Highland families, in Scotland. A clan is a family, and theoretically the chief is the father of it, although not every clansman can be a direct descendant of the founder.
Many people in Scotland today will be surprised to learn that those who founded the present clans were not themselves always Highlanders, but included Normans (Gordon, Eraser), Bretons (Stuart), Flemings (Murrey, Sutherland). Irish (MacNeil), and Norsemen (MacLeod), Mac meaning "son of". Concerning that early period of their settlement, which was between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, we must not be dogmatic on the subject of nationality; the important point is that all these were "incomers" to the Highlands.
When the incomers acquired their land they virtually took over a good many people who were living on it, and who, perhaps, were already formed into a family or clan unit. Gradually the old clan came to acknowledge the protection of their new leader, and at last built up a nominal kinship with him. In course of time intermarriage made it difficult to determine how far this kinship was nominal and how far real.
Under the patriarchal system of clanship, which reached its peak in the sixteenth century, order of precedence was strictly observed. First, after the chief himself, came members of his immediate family, his younger sons and grandsons, and then the clansmen. All of them, whether connected by blood or not, owned a common heritage of loyalty as clansmen. In return for the help and support of his clansmen, the chief was their leader in war and their arbiter in peace. Even in the early days the king was, in theory at least, the "chief of chiefs", and as the royal power spread through the Highlands the chiefs were made responsible for the good conduct of their clansmen. Among the most famous clans were: Campbell, Fraser, Munro, Cameron, Stewart, Murray, MacDonald, Maclean and Mackenzie.
The great period of the clans declined by the beginning of the eighteenth century and the failure of the Jacobite Risings in 1715 and 1745 completed the destruction. But today clan societies flourish in Scotland and, perhaps more ' bravely, elsewhere in the world. These societies are acquiring land and property in their respective clan countries, financing magazines, establishing museums to preserve the relics, founding educational trusts, and - perhaps above all - keeping alive the family spirit.
Tartan is and has for centuries been the distinguishing mark of the Highlander. It has a long history. Evidence can be brought to show that as long as the thirteenth century, and probably earlier, Highlanders wore brightly coloured striped or checked tartan plaids, which they called "breacan". There is some controversy about clan tartans as such. Traditionalists state the Highlanders wore tartan as a badge so that they could recognize each other and distinguish friend from foe in battle. Like many theories, this looks well on paper, but in practice it seems to break down. Even though the old tartans were simpler than the modern ones, they could not easily be recognized at a distance.
On the other hand, various descriptions can be quoted to show that, in the Highlands, the patterns of the tartans were considered important. A district tartan is a very natural development in a country divided into small communities. By the sixteenth century the particular patterns of tartan worn in a district were connected with the predominant local clan. But the study of the portraits shows that there was no uniformity of tartan even in the early eighteenth century. Members of the same family are found wearing very different tartan and, what is more surprising, many of the men are seen to wear the kilt of one tartan and a Jacket of another. The history of development of tartan was sharply broken in 1747, when wearing of Highland dress was forbidden by law after the failure of 1745.
In the early years of the nineteenth century efforts were made to collect authentic patterns of each clan tartan, but this does not seem to have been very successful. The fashion for tartan was fostered by the amazing spectacle of a kilted King George IV at holyrood in 1822, and demands for clan tartan poured into the manufactures. The wave of enthusiasm for tartan outstripped the traditional knowledge of the Highlanders, and it was at this time and in response to popular demand that a great many of familiar present-day tartans became associated with their respective clans. Some of the patterns had previously been identified by numbers only, while some were invented on the spot, as variations of the old traditional patterns.
The term "Highland dress'' has not always meant the same thing. In the seventeenth century the ki1t was not worn. Clansmen wrapped themselves in a generous length of tartan cloth some sixteen feet wide. The upper portion covered the wearer's shoulders, and it was belted at the waist, the lower portion hanging in rough folds to the knees. In the eighteenth century, this belted plaid was superseded by the kilt. Modern Highland dress consists of a day-time kilt of heavy material, sometimes in a darker tartan, worn with a tweed jacket, while for the evening finer material, possibly in a brighter "dress" tartan, can be matched with a variety of accessories.
Food and Drink
What sort of food has Scotland to offer the stranger? Scotland produces a number of dishes: Scots collops - a savoury dish popularly known as "mince", small mutton pies which must be served piping hot and the immortal haggis. And no country has a greater variety of puddings and pies, creams, jellies, and trifles.
The excellence of Scottish soups has been attributed to the early and long connection between Scotland and France, but there are some genuine soups, such as Barley Broth, Powsowdie or Sheeps Head Broth. Hotch Potch or Harvest Broth. Baud Bree (Hare Soup) is flavoured with toasted oatmeal and Cullen Skink is made with a smoked haddock.
Plenty of ingenuity is shown, too, in the preparation of both oatmeal and milk. Porridge, properly made with home-milled meal and fresh spring water, and served with thin cream or rick milk, is food for the gods. Lastly there is the national oatcake, which is described as “a masterpiece” by the French gastronomes.
As a nation the Scots are definitely better bakers than cooks. To beat the best Edinburgh bakers one must go, it is said, all the way to Vienna. There is an endless variety of bannocks and scones: soda scones, made with buttermilk, girdle scones, potato scones, without which no Glasgow Sunday breakfast is complete. Also the pancakes, the crumpets, the shortbread that melts in the mouth, buns of every size and shape! They are on offer in every bakery.
The Scottish housewife likes to buy her meat fresh and sees that she gets it. She likes the meat off the bone and rolled, as in France, and the Scottish butcher is an artist at his trade. Most of the cuts are different from England and have different names. Sirloin, one would understand, but what is Nine Holes? Steak is steak in any language, but what is Pope's eye?
And then the puddings! The black puddings, the white puddings, the mealy puddings. And king of puddings, the haggis! I once asked a Scot: "What's in a haggis?" His answer was: "I know. But I know no reason why you should. All you need to know is that it should be served with mashed potatoes and bashed neeps (turnips), and you must drink whisky with it. You will discover that the oatmeal in the haggis absorbs the whisky, and so you can drink more of it. What else do you need to know?" "A recipe of haggis", was my answer. "Hell, well, here you are", said my friend: B ounces of sheep's liver, 4 ounces of beef suet (fat), salt and pepper, 2 onions, 1 cup of oatmeal. Boil the liver and onions in water for 40 minutes. Drain, and keep the liquid. Mince the liver finely, and chop the onions with the suet. Lightly toast the oatmeal. Combine all the ingredients, and moisten the mixture with the liquid in which the liver and onions were boiled. Turn into a sheep's stomach, cover with grease-proof paper and steam for 2 hours.
Although the Scots are not a nation of beer-drinkers in the sense that the English are, some of the best beers in the world are brewed in the Lowlands of Scotland. But however good Scots beer and ale are, it is universally known that the glory of the country is whisky. Scotch whisky was a by-product of traditional Scottish thrift. Frugal Scots farmers, rather than waste their