…oh, and whiskey, are some of the things that spring to people’s minds when Scotland is mentioned in a conversation. All of the above, especially kilts, still play a very important part in Scottish celebrations all over the world.
The kilt was was originally much larger than modern kilts and included a piece which was worn over the shoulder, then tucked into the waist. However, in 1747, the wearing of the kilt was banned by the British government and was only allowed again in 1783. Bagpipes were also banned at this time as they were deemed to be an “instrument of war”. Perhaps modern day leaders should think about a “bagpipe” deterrent , as opposed to a nuclear one. It would save an awful lot of money.
A kilt was part of my wardrobe at an early age. I used to dread weekends , when I had to got to church , then visit the grandparents , dressed up in my kilt. I had to bear the taunts and ridicule of the other kids who were out playing in everyday attire. But this was the early 60’s when all the major fashion changes were taking place, and young boys had started to wear long trousers instead of shorts. Except me. So I would politely decline any opportunities to go out and play, preferring to remain in my corner in my grandparents’ living room.
For this reason, when I got into my teens, I steadfastly refused to wear the kilt any more. Until I moved to an area where wearing of the kilt is an accepted part of the culture. Apart from the tourists , no one would give a second glance, and I wore the kilt there with pride , in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be taunted or criticised for doing so.
There are many myths surrounding the kilt, about the tartan that it was made from and the person’s right to wear it . If you happened to be blessed with a clan name as your surname then it was no contest. That would be your tartan. For the rest of us , however, it was a different story. I’ve heard some wonderfully intricate tales of ancestry, before the age of the computer, which let the person lay claim to the tartan they wore. I always wore the Royal Stewart, which my mother said was our family’s tartan. So when I had the chance some years later, when computers had been invented, I found that my paternal family in Scotland originated from the Irish who had come to Scotland during the potato famine of 1845.
Kilts seem to have become the thing to wear at weddings these days. Even , dare I say it, English weddings. The very ones who banned the kilt all those years ago. But I’m not bitter. After all it gives the guys a legitimate excuse to go around with no underwear for the day, and after a few drinks, to be arrested for indecency during the break dancing competition.
There is much humour surrounding the kilt. We Scots like to think it stems from those who have never worn a kilt and are envious of the manly appearance it portrays. So I’ll finish with a couple of Spike Milligan’s kilt jokes, which are as follows;
“Is there anything worn under the kilt ?”
-“No, its all in perfect working order.”
“What do wear under your kilt, mate ?”
-“Your wife’s lipstick….”
more to come…
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