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What are Clans?

The term “clan” (from the Gaelic clann: children, offspring) is generally accepted as meaning “family” In theory, all members of a clan descended form one common ancestor. In reality, a clan was a tribal society with the family unit as its basis and membership could result from marriage, adoption, land acquisition, having a needed specialized skill, etc…. All clan members were required to support the clan and in turn, the members fell under the protection of the clan. A “sept” is a surname of a smaller family division associated to the clan that may or may not be necessarily connected by blood or name. Clans were territorial, ruling over and defending their territories against threats to their sovereignty. Alliances and feuds were common among the clans.

Although the term “clan” (clann) is not exclusively a Scottish term, Scotland readily comes to mind when it is used. The histories of the present day Scottish clans go back several hundred years, but the origin of the Scottish clan system has not been satisfactory determined. It has been speculated that some form of the clan system may have either been in existence in Scotland with the Picts (Scotland’s aboriginals) or brought over with the Scots, an Irish tribe, sometime in the fifth century.

A “tartan”, associated primarily with Scotland and its clans, is a pattern of vertical and horizontal colored lines crisscrossing each other at perpendicular (right) angles. Each tartan is a unique pattern with a specific selection of colors and varying line widths. This tartan is traditionally woven into cloth of wool. In the present day, a clan may have one or more registered tartans. Ideally, the wearing of a clan tartan should be worn showing an affiliation to that clan.

Another form of clan identification is the use of plants. In early Scotland, long before the tartan came into use as a form of clan identification, a sprig of a designated plant would be worn on the person. The men would normally stick the sprig in their bonnet.

As the results of the actions of King James VI of Scotland (a.k.a. King James I of England), the Highland Clearances, etc., a good many Scots ended up in North America.

One may assume that one’s longevity may be somewhat reliant on the ability to identify Scotland’s vegetation.

Clans that will be attending this year’s Festival:
Clan Donald
Clan Ewing
Clan Fraser
Clan Graham
Clan Gunn
Clan Henderson
Clan Murray