People/County Scottish, Scotland
Folk Dance: Highland Fling
haló (ha-LAW) (Scottish Gaelic)
Scottish Highland Dancing is said to have originated during the Highland Games, when kings and clan chiefs sought to find their best warriors. Dancing was one of the competitive events, with participants imitating epic deed of Scottish folklore. This particular style of dancing, which involved steps around a sword, requires agility, dexterity, strength and stamina. The origin, according to a BBC documentary, is that Scottish warriors danced over their weapons after a victorious battle, often crossed swords laid upon the ground. The dance, then and now, was probably accompanied by traditional Scottish bagpipe music. The marriage of Alexander III to Yolande de Dreux in 1285 is the first record of this “war dance” being performed to the music of bagpipes. Another account says the Highland bagpipes were first mentioned in Scotland in the 1400s and usually with reference to military life.
The dance competition has remained an important part of Highland Games, but now more than 90% of the participants are women, today. There are actually a few versions:
Including The Sword Dance and the Highland Fling. (The Ben Johnson History post below gives the origins and folklore behind several of the dances. And the Scottish Official Highland Dancing Association offers information.)
The dancer is wearing what might be considered the national clothing of Scotland. The most obvious garment is the kilt (or short pleated, usually plaid, “skirt” worn by men.) Originally, it was probably a large cloth wrap the went around the waist and over the back and shoulders. At some point this became two pieces: one for the shoulder and one to tuck into or attach to a waist band. It should fall no lower than mid-knee. The kilt, once banned, was saved by being part of military uniforms. While they could be solid colored, kilts are usually made of Tartan (a plaid associated with a particular clan). Traditional Scottish tartans have 2 to 6 colors. The clan’s crest might also appear on the Balmoral beret cap.
In addition to the pleated kilt, drawn closed with a horizontal strap buckles and kilt pin, the national dress includes a vest and jacket, which hits at the waist, knee-high socks (hose) with flashes (garters) and sgian dudn (small knife), and lace shoes called ghillie brogues. He may also wear a sporran hung from a chain around his waist. This is a sort of purse, wallet, or in earlier time gun-holder for the pocketless kilt and traditionally has three tassels in front.
Border: The diamond shape design of Argyle gets its name from the Argyll branch of the Scottish Campbell clan. It was based on their tartan design. However, now the word has a broader, more general reference. Scottish Highlander have worn this pattern on the knit stockings since the 17th century. They often referred to as tartan hose.
Bonus Scotland Info:
National animal of Scotland is the mythical Unicorn. According to Scottish legend, the unicorn is both pure and powerful, and almost impossible to tame. King William I chose the unicorn for the royal coat of arms in the 12th century, as did King James VI of Scotland in 1603, and it has been a national symbol ever since. (Travel Trivia)References and Links:( Note: I do not endorse or mean to promote any of these sites.)