Posts tagged 'American holidays'
Kilt Up for the Whole Month!
Suffice to say, you can certainly wear your finest Celtic highland wear to any number of festivities this time of year -- from office holiday parties and family gatherings to religious observances and New Year's.
A good many of our customers use the Holidays as a “pull the trigger” reason to get a complete Prince Charlie or Argyll package, or to spruce up their gear with a new sporran or other accessories. And if you’d like to give celtic gifts for Christmas, Channukah or Yule, we’d certainly appreciate it!
Here are some of the best days for kilts in December...
Repeal Day - Dec. 5
Fancy a wee dram of whisky or a pint of stout? Then throw on your best drinking kilt and raise your glass today! Repeal Day commemorates the end of Prohibition.
As you probably know, the 18th Amendment, which went into effect on January 16, 1919, restricted the legal manufacture, transportation, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Prohibition was brought about by a popular movement led by the American Christian Women's Temperance Union. They had good intentions -- to end crime, illness and domestic abuse caused by alcoholism. However, legislating morality backfired severely as amateur bootleggers, home distillers and eventually big-time organized crime got into the the booze racket. It was the age of the speak-easy and bathtub gin.
After the stock market crash of 1929, booze crime became even more difficult to stop and the 18th amendment became more and more unpopular and virtually impossible to enforce. In 1933, Congress passed the 21st Amendment, which essentially repealed the 18th. On December 5, 1933, Utah voted its approval which achieved the 3/4 state majority needed for the law.
Pearl Harbor Day - Dec. 7
On December 8, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called December seventh "..a day that will live in infamy".
Of course he was referring to the aerial attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by the Empire of Japan. The attack began at dawn and crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Over 2,400 American servicemen and 68 civilians were killed. Five of the eight battleships in port were sunk or sinking, and virtually all ships were damaged. However, the Japanese attack was a failure. The all-important American aircraft carriers were not in port, and the attack steeled American resolve to fight and win the Second World War.
On Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, U.S. flags are to be flown at half staff. Some communities still mark the day with public events. Whether yours does or not, this is a good day to thank members of “the greatest generation” for their service and sacrifices.
Chanukah - Date Varies
Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights (also spelled Chanuka and Hanukkah), celebrates victory and freedom from religious persecution (hey, that sounds Scottish!).
In the year 167 B.C., a group of fighters known as the Maccabees finally drove off the Greek occupiers of Jerusalem. In order to rededicate the holy temple after the fighting, it was necessary to relight the great Menorah. However, the Maccabees found only one small jar of oil -- enough to keep the Menorah lit for a day. When the oil lasted a full eight days, it was declared a miracle and the event has been celebrated ever since.
Chanukah is a happy and joyous occasion for Jews around the world, including Scotland. Many Jewish families trace their history back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The earliest official Jewish congregation in Edinburgh was founded in 1817. As a land dedicated to personal freedom, Scotland held certain advantages over neighboring England, such as the fact that university students were not required to swear a religious oath. Scottish cities, especially Glasgow, became refuges for Jews escaping persecution in the Russian empire. By the early 20th century, you could find men in the Highlands who spoke Scots English, Yiddish and Gaelic!
Many people of Jewish and Celtic descent, enjoy wearing the Davidson tartan (making reference to Malkhut Beit David (מלכות בית דוד) the "House of David"). The St. Andrews and Clark Ancient tartans are also popular Jewish kilt options since the blue and white colors are reminiscent of the tekhelet indigo color used in the tallit (prayer shawl).
Winter Solstice - Dec. 21 or 22
The Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, marks the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere. In fact the sun never even rises at the North Pole.
For thousands of years, the Winter Solstice has been a time of feasting and celebration, particularly in Norse and Germanic lands (including Viking-contacted areas of Scotland and Ireland). The ancients would celebrate the return of the sun and the promise of new life in the coming year. The Norse name for this holiday, Yule (or Jul) is retained in the Anglo-Saxon and English word “Yuletide.”
Many folk customs of Yule were long ago incorporated into Christmas celebrations. For example, feasting (including a pork dish), “Wassailing” (going door-to-door singing songs in exchange for drink and food), gift giving, the burning of the yule log and decorating with evergreens such a wreaths (a symbol of the circle of the year).
Many Pagans of different traditions celebrate the holiday today. And many civic groups hold secular celebrations such as concerts, fairs and bonfire parties.
Christmas Day - Dec 25
Of course, Celtic folk like to kilt up for Christmas -- whether it is to go to church to celebrate the birth of the Christian savior, or to attend a secular Christmas party. Oddly enough, Christmas was not a big holiday in Scotland until very recently. The real Scottish winter celebration is Hogmanay, which we’ll discuss below.
Did you know there is an official Santa Claus tartan?
Registered August 5, 2011, the organization known as ‘Clan Claus’ has its very own tartan available to member Santas. We here at USA Kilts are very proud that Rocky was named an Honorary Elf some years ago! Click here to learn more about how this group combines their love of Christmas and Celtic traditions.
St. Stephen's Day - Dec. 26
St. Stephen's Day (Lá Fhéile Stiofáin) is an Irish national holiday, also known as the Day of the Wren (Lá an Dreoilín). It commemorates the life of St Stephen, a Christian martyr.
St Stephen was stoned to death sometime around 33 CE. Irish legend has it that he was betrayed by a wren while in hiding. A more localized legend tells of the ill-fated St Stephen's Day raid, sometime around 750 CE. Irish warriors sneaking up on a Viking camp were betrayed by the noise of a wren eating crumbs on a drum head. Either way, wrens got a bad rep from these stories and St. Stephen’s Day once included the custom of boys hunting and throwing stones at the birds.
There is a strong mumming tradition for Wren Day in many parts of Ireland. Mummers, or “wren boys” often dress in colorful costumes of straw and ribbons. Traditionally, a killed wren would be tied to a stick and paraded about town and people would give the boys gifts. Today the gifts are usually money -- donations towards a public dance, a school or local charity. In some areas of Ireland, the boys may dress as girls or women.
St. Stephen’s is also a traditional day for enjoying a seasonal Pantomime. Pantomimes are December season musical-comedy productions for the whole family, popular throughout the UK. Usually based loosely on fairy tales, they incorporate audience participation, cross-dressing, slap-stick, double entendre and references to recent events.
This is an ideal day to enjoy your Irish kilt and accessories!
Hogmanay - Dec 31 - New Year's Eve
We actually have a whole blog post about Hogmanay. It’s a HUGE deal in Scotland.
Briefly, Hogmanay (Scots: [ˌhɔɡməˈneː], English: /ˌhɒɡməˈneɪ/ HOG-mə-NAY) is the Scots word for the last day of the year and synonymous with the New Year. It includes celebrations the night of New year’s Eve as well as continuing parties and socializing from New Year’s Day through January 2, which is a Bank Holiday, or longer.
Guy Fawkes Day - Nov. 5
Also known as “Gunpowder Day”, this English holiday commemorates the infamous Gunpowder Conspiracy of 1605. King James I ascended to the throne of England in 1603. Following in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth and Henry VIII before him, James was an ardent Protestant and his rule was under threat from Catholic groups at home and Catholic governments abroad. Sadly, this led him to continue and even step up the persecution of Catholics.
The Gunpowder Conspirators were an underground group of Catholics who sought to take action against the king and his government. Their plan was to blow up the British Houses of Parliament durng opening ceremonies -- thus assasinating the royal family as well as much of the government. The scheme was uncovered on November 5, 1605. The conspiracist, Guy Fawkes, was supposedly arrested just as he was about to light the fuse which would have ignited thirty six barrels of gunpowder hidden in the cellars beneath Parliament.
Allegedly. Some historians now question if the Plot was real or actually an elaborate sting operation or hoax by the government -- intended to legitimize James’ policies. Regardless, the anniversary has become an English tradition -- more about simply being British than about politics or religion. Gunpowder Day is celebrated with fireworks and bonfires. No, it’s not Scottish or Irish. However, if you have some English blood, or have English friends, this is a fine excuse for a dinner or a small party. Any excuse for fireworks, right? It's a good event and season for tweed.
U.S. General Election Day - First Tuesday of the month after the first Monday of the month
This is a perfect time to show off both your heritage and your patriotism by participating in our most important national institution -- the Vote.
Get your friends and family out there, too! The right to vote is certainly worth celebrating. Naturally, we here at USA Kilts would be honored if you chose to wear our flagship tartan, American Heritage, for this day. Check out our American Eagle Kilt Belt Buckle, too!
USMC Day - Nov. 10
USMC Day celebrates the birth of the United States Marine Corps. The Continental Congress authorized the creation of the ‘Continental Marines’ on November 10, 1775. Later the service was renamed the U.S. Marine Corps.Since the Revolutionary War, the Marine Corps has participated in every war that has involved the United States.
If you are a Marine Vet, this is your day. If you know or meet a Marine, it’s a great chance to thank them for their contributions to protecting our country. USA Kilts offers the official US Marine Corps “Leatherneck” tartan in both wool and PV. Where does the nickname come from? It refers to the wide, stiff leather neck-piece that was part of the Marine Corps uniform from 1798 until 1872. The tartan was designed and registered in 1986 by Bob Hall and Ruraidh MacLeod.
Veteran's Day - Nov. 11
This holiday originally was called Armistice Day. The first observance was in 1921 when the U.S., France and England each buried an unknown soldier in honor of those who died in World War I. The day, and even the time at which the interment was performed, was chosen because the WWI armistice went into effect on November 11, 1918 at 11:11 a.m.
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 the first commemoration of Armistice Day saying: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
The original concept was that the day should be observed with parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. The 11th of November was made a legal holiday—dedicated to the cause of world peace -- by Congressional Act in 1938. In 1954, at the urgings of various veterans’ organizations, Congress renamed the US holiday ‘Veteran's Day’ in order to honor all those who have served in our nation’s conflicts over the years. Today is a day of pride and reflection for veterans of all ages and thier families.
USA Kilts is proud to offer a complete line of US Military Service Branch Tartans as well as Service Branch insignia leather sporrans. We also offer a 10% discount to veterans, contact us for details. And in case you are a living historian, let us know if you want a period-correct military kilt for your impression.
To all the Vets of every Service Branch - Thank you!
Thanksgiving - Nov. 23
Thanksgiving! Food. Football. Parades. Traveling to see family (...even Uncle Joe). Crowded dining rooms and piles of dishes so high you could name mountains after them. What more needs to be said?
Harkening back to the great harvest feast held by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in 1621, Thanksgiving is perhaps the greatest American holiday. Individual states and municipalities held separate harvest celebrations around the country for centuries. It wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it in 1863 (at the height of the Civil War) that we had anything like a national holiday. Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November and it was intended to be a sort of day of healing and pious reflection on the losses of the war. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to move the observance up a week -- an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. However, people still preferred the old date so in 1941 the president signed a bill making Thanksgiving officially and permanently the fourth Thursday in November.
For those of celtic extraction, there’s an added layer of tradition and good cheer as recipes from the old country hit the table and grandparents tell stories about immigrant ancestors and life in the old days. Nothing wrong with having both colcannon and apple pie, right? Whatever your family’s traditions are, we hope kilting up is one of them. You want to look your best at the feast! If you are considering a new kilt or accessories for this season, consider muted tartans and weathered tartans to match the turning leaves outside and brown leather sporrans and belts for a more rustic and toned-down look.
Black Friday - Friday after Thanksgiving
Are you planning to shop? Or stay home? Either way, throw on a kilt! You’ll certainly make an impression at the check-out line. Heck, you might even get VIP treatment! Love it or hate it, “Black Friday” is an institution. It is now one of the two busiest shopping days of the year. (the other one is the day after Christmas -- Gift Certificate/Returns Day)
Ever wonder where the name comes from? In old-fashioned accounting books, sums written in red signified a loss while black signified a profit. For many retail companies, the Christmas holiday season can account for up to one half to three quarters of their annual sales. Many retailers actually lose money (are “in the red”) or just break even until the holiday season. With the on-rush of gift shopping and the ease of enticing folks with special seasonal sales, Black Friday and the weeks that follow allow companies to get back in black.
As a small online company, we don’t do the whole Black Friday thing, but please do consider visiting us on Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday! If you are gift shopping, take advantage of our very handy USA Kilts Gift Card. If you plan to kilt up to hit the mall today, we suggest something rugged like a Casual Kilt. You must be prepared for anything, brother. Good Luck!!!
St. Andrew's Day - Nov. 30
Will you be attending a St. Andrew’s Day Dinner? It’s about as Scottish as you can get. Saint Andrew's Day (Scots: Saunt Andra's Day, Scottish Gaelic: Là Naomh Anndrais) is the feast day of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland (as well as Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and other lands). It is Scotland's official “National Day” and as such was designated as an official bank holiday in 2006 by the Scottish Parliament.
The celebration of this day as a national festival may have originated with King Malcolm III (1034–1093). According to some tradition, the ritual slaughter of animals usually associated with Samhain was moved to this later date as a means of ensuring enough animals were kept alive for winter. In Scotland, St. Andrew’s is considered the start of the winter festival season which peaks with Hogmanay and ends with Burns Night. In the town of St Andrews, and in some other Scottish cities, the celebrations can last a whole week!
Saint Andrew's Day is also an official flag day for Scotland. Government regulations stipulate that the Flag of Scotland, the Saltire, (ie. Saint Andrew's Cross) will be flown on all government buildings with a flag pole. This is actually a very recent policy. Prior to 2002, government buildings would only fly the Union Flag. Here in North America, Saint Andrews Societies across the nation will be hosting elegant and festive evenings of fine dining, music and dance to celebrate Scottish culture and heritage.
Any day is a good day to wear a kilt! However, some days of the year call for it more than others. If you're looking for a fun reason to kilt up (or an excuse your boss can't question?), check out these national holidays and special occasions. Kilt on, lads!
National Boyfriends Day - Oct. 3
While it isn’t a recognized national holiday, this is as good an excuse for a date night as any. And a date night is a kilt night! It’s their turn to do something nice for you, but be sure to show your gratitude, starting with your best Celtic look.
National Golf Day - Oct. 4
As you know, the Scots invented the great game of golf. Many dedicated traditional golfers kilt up before hitting the course. Well, on this day you can look good and also do good.
The Professional Golfer's Association (PGA) created this truly admirable event back in 1952 and continues to sponsor it today. The very first National Golf Day event was held at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club, in Lemont, Il. It was attended by many noted celebrity golf fans including Bob Hope, Dean Martin, and Jerry Lewis. The tournament raised $80,000 for charity.
Today the tradition continues with over 4,300 professional members of the PGA playing golf with contributors. The contributors’ entry fees go towards a wide array of charitable causes. Many golf courses hold their own charitable events, so check around to see if a local club has a fun day planned.
Which kilt should you wear when golfing?
Homecoming - any weekend in October
This month across the USA highschools and colleges will celebrate Homecoming with dances, football games, parades and more. If you're a student, alumnus or proud parent, this ia a fantastic opportunity to kilt up and have a blast! For attending the big game, you can choose either a casual kilt or, for something a little warmer in the bleachers, a 5-yard wool kilt. The brighter the tartan the better!
If you are planning to attend a Homecoming Dance, it may be time to invest in a more formal kilt outfit. Take a look at our Argyll and Prince Charlie Kilt Packages for ideas.
Octoberfest - any weekend in October
Wait. A German holiday? Yup! You see Rocky, our founder, is part German. He even designed the German Heritage tartan! More so, we are situated in Pennsylvania Dutch country, so we have a number of customers with both Celtic and German ancestry. Two great cultures that both LOVE BEER. In fact, lots of Celts and Germans around the world get together to raise a stein on this occasion celebrating the harvest, good cheer and camaraderie. Prost!
Leif Erikson Day - Oct. 9
Celtic and Norse blood in your veins? Then this is a good day for you.
Leif Erikson Day recognizes the first European to set foot on North American soil. Around 1002 A.D., Leif Erikson (aka: Leif, Leifur or Leiv. Last name: Erikson, Ericson, Ericsson, or Ericksson) sailed to North America from Greenland, where his family had lived for some time after his father, Erik the Red, had been exiled from Iceland.
Leif was searching for more hospitable lands and was following the vague directions of another norseman who had made a foray to the south but not landed. As recorded in his Saga, Leif made landfall at several points. The exact locations are hard to pin down but it is believed he landed along the coast of Newfoundland and may have gotten as far as Cape Cod. Leif only made one trip to “Vinland” but other northmen followed over the years including his brother, who was killed by Indians.
In 1964, a joint resolution by Congress officially declared October 9th as Leif Erikson Day.
So are you part Viking? Your personal genealogy will tell you for sure, but your name itself is a clue. Several Scottish clans, including Gunn, MacDonald of the Isles and MacLeod, were founded by Vikings who settled in Scotland. The same goes for some Irish families from around Dublin, the Irish city founded by the Norse.
Samhain and All Saint's Day - Oct. 31 / Nov. 1
What we now call Halloween was once the first Celtic fire festival of the year. The Irish name for the holiday is Samhain (sow-een or sow'-inn), which refers to the whole month of November. Samhain comes from the old Gaelic "samhraidhreadh" meaning "summer's end".
A sort of Celtic New Year’s Eve, the old pagan fire festival marked the beginning of the dark half of the year. It was a harvest festival as well as a signal to begin preparations for the winter -- the season of death.
Like the Mexican Día de Muertos, this holiday would include (and for many modern Pagans still does include) feasting and rituals to honor dead ancestors and loved ones -- the Fleadh nan Mairbh. Ceremonies involved fire, lights and setting out food and gifts for passing spirits. Some spirits were friendly and could bring good luck, while others were evil or mischievous. This was the root of the masking tradition we now know as trick-or-treating. After conversion to Christianity, most of these folk customs were still enjoyed though different meanings might be assigned to some of the elements.
All Saints Day, the day after Samhain, was the primary Christian response to the pagan festivities. It is a time for prayer and worship dedicated to the dead in general, not merely canonized Saints, as one might expect. We'll discuss this holiday in more detail in our November post.
Any day is a good day to wear a kilt! However, some days of the year call for it more than others. If you're looking for a fun reason to kilt up (or an excuse your boss can't question?), check out these national holidays and special occasions. Kilt on, lads!
VJ Day, WWII - Sept. 2
This is a good time to honor family members and ancestors who fought in World War II. And of course if you happen to own a Military Service Branch tartan kilt or American Heritage, this is a the day for it.
V-J Day is actually celebrated on three different dates:
~ August 14, 1945, when the Japanese government cabled their message of surrender.
~ August 15, 1945, when the surrender was officially announced to the world.
~ September 2, 1945, when the formal surrender ceremony took place in Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri. This is the date declared a celebration by President Truman.
Labor Day - First Monday of September
Kilt up for the BBQ! Labor Day, the "workingman's holiday", honors American workers of any and all professions. As you probably know, it’s usually marked by picnics, backyard parties and parades, often sponsored by local labor unions. New York City celebrated the first Labor Day on September 5, 1882. It was moved to the first Monday in September in 1884. On June 28, 1894, Congress made it a national holiday.
If you are Irish, you can take extra pride in this holiday. Peter J. McGuire, an active labor organizer and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor is generally credited with getting the party started. Some historians also credit another Irish American, Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York, with inaugurating the idea in 1882. Either way, it was an Irish American who made it happen!
Grandparent's Day - First Sunday after Labor Day
National Grandparent's Day was created by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. This is a great time to gather the family for stories, good food and perhaps a dram of whisky in honor of your heritage. Don’t forget to get some family photos with everyone in kilts!
911 Remembrance - Sept. 11
A more sombre reason to wear your Celtic wear. This is a very important date for any American, but especially for firefighters, law enforcement professionals and members of our armed forces. Quite simply, everything changed that day. Don the kilt today with pride and honor our heroes. You live in a country where the freedom to express yourself will never be defeated. 9/11 was one of the main inspirations behind our development of the Firefighters Memorial Tartan, which you can read more about here.
POW/MIA Recognition Day - Third Friday of September
July 18, 1979 was the first official commemoration by Congress of American prisoners of war and service people listed as missing in action. Over the following years, ceremonies were held on varying dates. In 1986, the National League of Families proposed the third Friday in September as a permanent day of recognition. The president of the United States issues a proclamation on this day each year.
On this day, kilt up and when someone asks you why you are wearing a kilt, take the opportunity to remind them of the plight of American POWs/MIAs and their family members. If you own a military branch tartan kilt, this is a good day to show your solidarity with your brothers and sisters in the service.
Citizenship Day (Constitution Day) - Sept. 17
The Constitutional Congress of the United States of America met on September 17, 1787 to finally ratify the finished document. Since individual states then had to vote on it, the U.S. Constitution would not go into effect until March 4, 1789.
Constitution Day and Citizenship Day are combined to honor both this profound document and how lucky we all are to be citizens of the United States. The holiday is especially important and emotional for immigrants who have earned citizenship. Not to mention the families and descendants of immigrants.
Of course as Celtic Americans, we know this story well. Now’s a great time to wear the kilt and reflect on the journeys of our ancestors. Those who fled oppression, hardship and even starvation to begin again in the land of “Golden Opportunity.”
Autumn Equinox - Sept. 21 or 22
Fall begins! The day and the night are equal, which has held a fascination for Celtic people since ancient times. It’s a good time of year for a hike in the woods in your kilt. Or a trip to the farm to pick apples. If you’re a Celtic Pagan or Wiccan, you may also be celebrating a harvest festival today such as Harvest Home, Mabon, or Alban Elfed. Weathered Tartans have a great earthy feel while Muted Tartans capture the tones of fall foliage. Both are great choices for any specil event this time of year, especuially a wedding. Kilt up and enjoy sharing the fruits of the earth with your friends and kin. Winter will soon be here, so seize the day!
Michaelmas - Sept. 29
This day is the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel. The name comes from a shortening of "Michael's Mass." Since it is so close to the Autumnal Equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of Fall and coming of Winter’s shorter days.
Celts, and especially Scots, have held celebrations on this day for ages. One notable procession takes place on the Isle of Skye each year. Many activities associated with the Celtic pagan holiday of Lughnasadh in August were incorporated into this Saint’s Day including sports competitions, festival games and horse races.
One traditional food is the special bread called St Michael's bannock or Michaelmas Bannock (Scottish Gaelic: Sruthan Mhìcheil). Originating in the Hebrides, this cake is made from equal parts barley, oats, and rye. It is made without using any metal implements in remembrance of absent friends or those who have died. In honor of these people, some cakes are blessed at an early morning Mass and given to the poor. The last blackberries of the season are often picked and made into Michaelmas pies.