Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Kilt

The kilt is a knee-length skirt with a tartan pattern that is worn by men. Nowadays it is known as a typical symbol representing the Scottish culture. Its origin lies in the Scottish Highlands of the 16th century. But the Scots only adopted it as a national symbol in the 19th century. The kilt is mostly worn on formal occasions like weddings, parades or by groups such as the Scouts and so on. It can also be worn as part of the uniform by certain armies but has not been used in combat since 1940. The kilt is also worn at less formal occasions too: most of us may recollect seeing a noisy crowd of kilt-wearing Scots at a national soccer game e.g. Surprisingly there are still people today who wear the kilt daily. In recent years it has even become a fashionable symbol and is often worn in combination with a Jacobite shirt. The kilt is also unique because of the special conventions that go with it. There is only one proper way of wearing it! The majority of people think that wearing no underwear belongs to the tradition of the kilt. But this is not really the case, even if a Scot who wears a kilt with underwear risks losing his status as a “True Scotsman”. It is true that wearing underwear is in some cases forbidden by military regulations. But, most of the time, the choice is free.

Even if there is only one right way to wear a kilt; there are lots of possible varieties concerning colour (e.g. the colour of the tartan depends on the region, society, corporation,… you come from), size, weight, pleats, etc. In all, there are nearly 5 000 tartans registered! It has to be highlighted that for the Scots, their kilt is sacred. Therefore, they would never put it in a washing machine. On the contrary, they would even wash it with their bare hands or they would give it to the dry cleaners in order to avoid spoiling the pleats that are found on the back site.

The wearing of a kilt also requires several accessories such as the kilt hose and Ghillie Brogues (shoes) (woollen socks), the sporran (a special purse), a belt, a jacket, a sgian dubh (a black knife). A female “kilt” also exists which is called the Aboyne dress. The enormous reputation of the kilt as being a national symbol even encourages authors to write books about the art of making and wearing a kilt! Wearing a kilt is a Scottish tradition that has already lasted for five centuries. And due to the fact that the Scots are still very enthusiastic about their national symbol, we can hope that this unique tradition will last at least another five centuries!

Camille Mertens and Jessica Meyer


Simon Labate said...

"Red October standing by!" :p

Simon Labate said...

Did anyone get the joke? Or do I have to explain that obscure reference? ;-)

Jessica M. said...

Honestly, I don't really get it...:)

Simon Labate said...

It's simple. First, the guy that stands by the two bagpipe players in the picture is the famous Sir Sean Connery. This actor, not only known for starring in several James Bond movies and as Indiana Jones's father ("Junior!"), but also for playing in The Hunt for Red October, where he was the captain of a submarine named Red October.

Second, this video is a fragment from a Star Wars special episode of Family Guy called Blue Harvest. This scene spoofs the rebel pilots' check in as they are on the verge to attack the Death Star in Episode IV (the movie the parody is based on). They all call something like "Red 2 standing by", "Red 5 standing by", and here the scene becomes spoofed as people having the word "red" in their names appear and (normally) trigger laughs in the audience due to the puns. In the parody you can thus hear:

"Red Buttons standing by."
"Redd Foxx standing by."
"Big Red standing by."
"Red October standing by."
"Helen Reddy standing by."
"Simply Red standing by.

As we hear "Red October standing by" we clearly hear a perfect imitation of Sean Connery's Scotish accent and we see, of course, the submarine.

All that to say that Sean Connery/Red October stands by…

If you think this is rather far fetch, don't hesitate to tell me! ;-)