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March 28, 2006 > Attention lads and lassies, the clans are gathering

Attention lads and lassies, the clans are gathering

Traveling around the Bay Area, city names such as Ben Lomond and Campbell as well as the Dumbarton Bridge are constant reminders of Scottish influence. In fact, there are eight places in the United States known as "Scotland." Prior to the independence of Scotland under the Declaration Arbroath in 1320, a "clan" system developed whose names have been given to areas such as Campbell, Cameron, Crawford and Douglas. The common Scottish surname suffix "Mac" or "Mc" is also highly visible.

Tri-Cities Scottish Association of California (TSAC) was formed to preserve the customs and heritage of Scotland. Next month TSAC will sponsor a Tartan Day celebration at Ardenwood Historic Farm on Saturday, April 8th. Officially Tartan Day is celebrated by proclamation of Congress on April 6th; a formal recognition of the important contributions of Scottish immigrants to the founding and continued vitality of the United States. The first city in California to proclaim Tartan Day was Newark. Part of the resolution recognizes that "almost half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent; the Governors in 9 of the original 13 sates were of Scottish ancestry. Scottish Americans successfully helped shape this country in its formative years and guide this nation through its most troubled times."

Scotland's history has been a tempestuous one, filled with tension between England and Scotland. Religious persecution, failed rebellions and trade opportunities fueled the influx of Scots to America. Many highly educated Scots played a crucial role in the early development of the New World. Most headmasters of the schools in the new colonies south of New York were Scottish or of Scottish ancestry. These establishments were fundamental in the education of America's future leaders; both Thomas Jefferson's and John Rutledge's tutors were Scottish immigrants.

Many colleges, universities and other educational establishments were founded by Scots. During the mid 17th Century, Scottish medical establishments were second to none so many Americans traveled to Scotland to gain an education in medicine. In 1775, although many practiced medicine in the United States, few actually held degrees. Many of those with formal training were educated in Scotland.

Contributions of Scotland to American life are many and well-known. Personages in all areas of society are numerous as well, but any discussion of Scotland would not be complete without a nod to Scotch Whiskey and the poetry of Robert Burns who is celebrated by all on New Year's Eve when his poem, Auld Lang Syne takes center stage. A versatile poet, Burns' works are known for encompassing many moods from whimsical (Address to a Toothache), romantic (Handsome Nell, Charlie He's My Darling) and ballads (John Barleycorn).

Although Scots were hardworking and highly educated, they also made time for sporting events. Part of the Tartan Day celebration at Ardenwood will center on sport. Many modern American track and field events originated from massive Scottish athletic tournaments and you may see similarities when watching the Caber Toss or Stone Put. An import from Scotland which holds a special place in many American hearts is the game of golf. Many diehard golfers make at least one pilgrimage to St. Andrews Golf Course in Scotland to play at the birthplace of modern golf. Another popular import from Scotland is the sound of the bagpipe band. No Scottish Gathering would be complete without Highland dancing to the sound of the bagpipes. To feel the rhythm and soul of Scotland, visit TSAC's Tartan Day. Scotland and its people hold a special zest for life which is shared each year when the clans gather on Tartan Day. This year will be no exception.

Tartan Day
Saturday, April 8
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(510) 796-0199
Admission: $8 adults/$6 seniors/$5 children (ages 4-17 yrs.) under 4 free.

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