On Friday, April 8, Wooster Scottish Arts Society (WooSAS) hosted Tartan Day. This is an annual holiday, typically held on April 6, that celebrates Scottish heritage. This year, WooSAS ordered traditional Scottish and Irish food as well as some standard American favorites from Village Catering in Smithville. The feast included pretzel bites, shepherd’s pie and whiskey glazed carrots.
A typical Tartan Day celebration can vary in scale from small gatherings to large parades. Scottish dancing, listening to bagpipes and kilt-wearing are also commonly found at these celebrations. Tartans used to be outlawed in Scotland; the long history of cultural suppression makes it even more important to celebrate Scottish culture and history. While the Tartan Day celebration held in the Underground by WooSAS looked a little bit different, it still had many of the same traditional elements and was a great way for students to honor and celebrate Scottish culture.
The evening began with food and the chance to mingle with other students from the College, no matter their knowledge of Scotland. A member of WooSAS kicked things off by speaking about the MacLeod Tartan, which first appeared on campus in 1939 when Birt Babcock bought them for the pipe band. They also mentioned that the first shipment of kilts never made it to Wooster because a German U-Boat sank the ship that was carrying them; however, the second shipment arrived just in time for the band.
After hearing about the history of Tartan Day and the MacLeod Tartan, Bowen Ault ’25 presented the different parts of a bagpipe and told the story about how he got into playing the instrument. He told the group about the musical workings of the bagpipes and how they only have nine notes, so if a song has more than one octave the instrument can’t play it. Glenna Van Dyke ’23, the outgoing president of WooSAS, played the Scottish smallpipes, a smaller version of the bagpipes for the group since the bagpipes are too loud to play indoors. The evening rounded out with more information about Tartan Day and the history behind it.
WooSAS is a fairly new organization to the College that was formed right before the pandemic to encourage students to learn more about Scottish heritage and to find more dancers, drummers and pipers to continue representing Scotland in creative ways on campus. While this is the first year that they have been able to put on events, WooSAS is looking forward to doing more for everyone on campus to enjoy. The organization has shown Disney’s “Brave” and held an open house where anyone on campus who was interested in learning about bagpiping, drumming or dancing could visit to find out more.
Van Dyke is “happy to be able to even have a Tartan Day celebration this year, and [wants] to thank everyone who helped to make it a success!” The connection to Wooster makes the event even more special for all those involved.
If you want to learn more about WooSAS follow them on Instagram @woo_sas or attend their weekly meetings every Thursday in Kauke 037 from 8-9 p.m.