April 6 marks Tartan Day: on this day in 1320, the Declaration of Arbroath was signed, asserting Scottish independence. As the BBC describes,
The Declaration is a Latin letter which was sent to Pope John XXII in April/May 1320. It was most likely drafted in the scriptorium of Arbroath Abbey by Abbot Bernard on behalf of the nobles and barons of Scotland. It was one of three letters sent to the Pope in Avignon, the other two being from King Robert Bruce himself and from four Scottish bishops, attempting to abate papal hostility. The document received the seals of several Scottish barons and it then was taken to the papal court at Avignon in France by Sir Adam Gordon.
While that original document is lost, an early version resides in Edinburgh’s National Archives of Scotland. An English translation by Sir James Ferguson reads in part:
For, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom—for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
What this means in 2016 in New York is that the guy from Outlander is the grand marshal of a parade that goes up Sixth Avenue, and by the way it’s called “Tartan Week,” because the parade is actually on Saturday.
To celebrate in a more timely fashion, I present to you this vintage Scotch broth ad, which brings a similarly nuanced American interpretation of Scottish culture and history. In this commercial you will find: animated bagpipers, cartoon children singing “The Campbells Are Coming,” and an actor who can barely contain his obvious distaste as he spoons a lumpen mixture of mutton and barley into his grimacing gob. Happy viewing.
Sadie Stein is contributing editor of The Paris Review, and the Daily’s correspondent.