Why do Scots wear kilts?


Surely you have asked yourself many times this question. The skirt that the Scots wear is called kilt and its tartan fabric. This plaid fabric is much more than a fabric or a garment is part of the identity and history of Scotland and is a symbol of Scottish pride.



History of the kilt

According to archaeologists the Celts have been weaving tartan for about 3000 years. Their colors were obtained from plants, roots and trees of the places where said fabric was woven.

Although the best known origin of the Kilt dates back to the fifteenth century and is associated with the inhabitants of the Highlands, the highlands of Scotland.

In those days, the garment was called   “ fadehia mor ” and consisted of a tartan cloth about 5 meters long that was placed around the waist and the remaining part was placed over the shoulder in one way or another depending on the climatology or work they were going to do, and it was fastened with a clasp.

It is said that these skirts were worn to prevent the bottom of the pants from getting wet, due to the heavy rains that fall in Scotland throughout the year.

Over the years this garment was simplified, the upper part disappeared, leaving only the kit, the kilt, as we know it today.


The Highlanders and the kilt

After the defeat of the Jacobites in the eighteenth century and the incorporation of Scotland to the UK, the typical scottish costume was banned but never came away thanks to the Highlanders, the Royal Regiment of Scotland to the service of the British army. These maintained the clans’ traditions including music and clothing, wearing the kilt even on the battlefield.

The highlanders were brave warriors, strong and resilient and became the insignia of the British Empire.

Highlanders regiments were formed outside Europe, in Australia, New Zealand and Canada and were key in the conservation of Scottish folklore.

The kilt was used by the Highlanders even on the battlefield. In the First World War, a khaki military kilt was specifically designed for the Scottish regiment.

Nowadays the Kilt is only used by the army as a gala uniform in official acts.


Types of Tartans

Each tartan design identifies a Scottish clan. The word clan comes from the Gaelic  clan which means descendant or son, and refers to the tribes and families.

All Scottish tartans are registered and regulated by the Scottish tartan Authority, the Scottish tartan authority.

There is also a regulation in terms of use, it is not allowed to carry tactical kilts  whose clan does not belong or has not been authorized by any member to take it.


Universal Tartans

There are  combat kilt , for their historical and symbolic significance. These tartans are the Black Watch , Caledonian , Hunting Stewart and Jacobite .

Royal Scottish Tartans

There are also royal tartans , which can only be used by members of the royal family and by the Stuart house. One of the examples of these royal tartans is that of Balmoral that cannot be used by anyone other than the British royal family or authorized by it.

The Royal Stewart  is the official tartan of the Royal House of Scotland and King George V authorized the use of this Royal tartan to the bagpipes of the Scottish Guard Regiment.


(c) Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Scottish company tartans

There are even corporate tartans adopted by companies, the oldest of which is the Highland spring Scottish mineral water company.

Even the Scottish parliament has its own tartan!

Mourning Tartans

There were also mourning tartans, these were black and white. This kilt was used only at funerals.


Hunting tartans

And hunting tartans, which were used only for this sport and dominated the dark brown and violet colors to be confused with the environment.

At the moment only men with Scottish suits are seen in celebrations like weddings, in the games of the Highlands and in the parades of the Royal Friends.


Although the kilt is also used by celebrities such as actors Gerard Butler and Sean Connery, among other proud Scots, to attend prize collections, and is still employed by fashion designers, which reinforces the influence of Scottish culture in the world.


The tartan is a national symbol, as are william (whose tartan is not the one that appears in Mel Gibson’s film); the thistle, the national flower; the Stone of Destiny and the cross of San Andrés.


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