15 Father’s Day Gift Ideas for Men who Wear Kilts

Now that Mother’s Day has come and gone, the fathers in our lives will soon have their turn. On June 18, dads and granddads all over will be hit with an onslaught of items emblazoned with some variation of the phrase “World’s Best Dad.”

But if the special daddy in your life wears a kilt, then the average Father’s Day gift just won’t do. Sure, you can fall back on the usual necktie or coffee mug. But why settle for the same-old, same-old when you can choose a gift that honors your favorite kilted men?

Men who wear kilts deserve a Father’s Day gift that speaks to them personally and shows you went the extra mile in thoughtfulness. So if you’re looking to get your kilt-wearing father or grandfather an exceptional gift on his special day, here’s a list of ideas to help you do just that.

Deluxe Antique Thistle Leather Sporran

No kilt is complete without an accompanying sporran. This beauty is crafted of fine leather and boasts a magnificent antique-finish thistle medallion. Three elegant chain tassels add a regal touch, making this sporran fit for a laird.

Clan Crest Kilt Belt Buckles

These pewter belt buckles are made in dozens of Irish and Scottish family names so your kilt-wearing dad can add a badge of clan honor to his outfit. Perfect for the next Highland Games or clan gathering, or any occasion that calls for Celtic pride.

Scottish-Irish Sash

Skip the plain old necktie and get your special dad a gorgeous sash in a range of Scottish and Irish tartan patterns. It also comes in tartans representing the Armed Forces and several US states.

Stag Horn Sgian Brew

This variation on the traditional sgian dubh is cleverly converted into a bottle opener for wearing in public places where weapons aren’t allowed. Not to mention convenience for the next trip to the pub.

Personalized Whiskey Barrel

This lovely barrel comes in three different size options and can be personalized to your specifications in a number of different font types. It’s a thoughtful gift, and it’ll make your dad the most popular guy on the block.

Piper Etched Pewter Tankard

Your kilt-wearing dad can enjoy his favorite beverage in this beautiful tankard that features an intricate engraving of a kilted bagpiper. However, Dad will have to provide his own bagpipe music.

Scottish Meat Pies

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so treat your father to a taste of Scotland with a savory meat pie. Beef, lamb, chicken, pork, and beans are among the flavor choices for these tasty treats, which Dad might share if you ask him really

Whisky Honey

Possibly the best culinary pairing since peanut butter and chocolate. Your dad can spread it on his morning toast, add to his favorite tea, or you could use it to make him a batch of baked goods with an extra kick-up-the-arse.

Walton’s Scottish Tin Whistle Value Pack

For the kilted music-loving dad. The instruction booklet features traditional Scottish favorites, so your dad can learn to play in no time. Just make sure he doesn’t play it too loud—don’t want the neighbors to be unhappy!

Celtic Cross Bodhran

A majestic Celtic cross graces the head of this classic Celtic drum. It comes with a cover, a beater, and an instructional DVD. Suggestion: Throw in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for yourself.

Scottish Spurtle

In case you don’t know, a spurtle is an iconic Scottish kitchen tool, mainly used for preparing that Scottish breakfast of champions—porridge. If your kilt-wearing dad likes puttering around in the kitchen, this will be a Father’s Day gift that keeps on giving.

Scottish Thistle Flask

A flask is a useful item for any kilt-wearer. Decorated with a Scottish thistle, this stainless-steel flask can hold whisky, water, or whatever your dad likes to quench his thirst.

Hopped Up Coffee Scottish Ale

Here’s another beverage idea for the flask mentioned above. Now your dad can enjoy his morning coffee with an extra kick. This specialty coffee combines delicious Scottish flavors for a brew he’s sure to love.

Acorn TV

Does your dad love UK television shows? Give him a gift he can use with a subscription to Acorn, the premier website for the best British TV shows so he can enjoy his favorite stories commercial-free. Great for when he has a weekend to himself or when he needs to zone out.

 

The Naughty Little Book of Gaelic

Nobody does “naughty” like the Scots. Celtic scholar Michael Newman has assembled all the dirtiest bits of Gaelic into an entertaining little book. Dad will have endless fun mastering all kinds of curses for different occasions from the barroom to the bedroom. Not for the easily offended, but if your father wears his sense of humor as well as a kilt, go for it.

All the ideas on this list are just suggestions, but they’ll give you plenty of inspiration. So if you know an awesome father or grandfather who wears a kilt, show him how much you care by getting them a Father’s Day gift that speaks to him in a language he can understand. By giving him a memorable gift, you’ll touch his heart and let him know how much he means to you. To all the dads out there, kilted or otherwise, Happy Father’s Day! Or, as they say in Scotland, Beannachd Latha na Athair Dhut!

—Heather McNamara

Book Review: Highland Fire: Guardians of the Stone, Book 1

Title: Highland Fire (Guardians of the Stone Book 1)
Author: Tanya Anne Crosby
Publisher: Oliver-Heber Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2014
Print Length: 335 pages

In the year 1123, King David of Scotland has established a tenuous peace across the kingdom. Only one obstacle remains in his path towards lasting peace: the Dun Scoti, a wild Highland tribe fiercely opposed to outside rule. In a last-ditch effort to form an alliance with the dun Scoti, David arranges a marriage between clan leader Aidan and Lileas MacLaren. However, Lileas happens to be the daughter of the man who betrayed the dun Scoti clan, and lives under a tragic curse as punishment for her father’s crime. Even worse, Lileas is blackmailed into the arranged marriage under threat of bodily harm to her precious son. In spite of her troubled past, and his own resistance, the wild warrior Aidan finds himself growing unable to resist Lileas’s beauty and kindness. As kings and nobles play politics over the fate of Scotland, love brings two hearts together in a bond that will determine the land’s destiny.

A companion series to author Tanya Anne Crosby’s previous Highland Brides novels, the Guardians of the Stone books take the reader on a journey to Scotland on the cusp of its birth (the Stone in question being the fabled Stone of Destiny, which determines the true King of Scotland). This first entry presents a tale of warring cultures, as the dun Scoti clan clings to the traditions of its Pictish ancestors in a land that is changing far too fast for their comfort. Crosby brings across the story of the dun Scoti with a palpable poignancy, the wistful dreaminess of a culture on the brink of oblivion. History buffs will want to read this with a grain of salt, as Crosby freely admits to taking some liberties with historical details in crafting her story. But this isn’t meant to be a factual historical tale. It’s a speculative “what-if?” yarn, an elegy to a culture that has shaped Scotland to this day, despite vanishing without a trace.

As with any romance, the characters are key to the story’s enjoyment, and Crosby does not fail to provide us with a bevy of colorful personalities. Lileas is a strong, capable heroine with a kind heart; despite the curse laid upon her for her father’s sins, she refuses to give in to self-pity. Drawing on her healer’s skills and gracious ways, she wins over the dun Scoti clan in almost an instant. Her betrothed, clan leader Aidan, is a fine Highland hero, a battle-hardened warrior whose new bride brings out the gentle heart buried deep within. The chemistry between Lileas and Aidan is undeniable. Their coming together as a couple is the stuff that romance novels are made of, a mutual awakening of desire and trust that can only come forth in a love that was meant to be.

The cast is rounded out further by a motley crew of fascinating side characters, particularly Aidan’s sisters, warlike Lael and exuberant Sorcha. The enigmatic Druid priestess Una is an intriguing side character, a mysterious entity whose mysticism quietly shapes the clan’s destiny. The main villain of the story is Rogan, the brother-in-law of Lileas’ late first husband and the driving force behind the marriage. His cruelty and lack of concern for anyone other than himself make him the sort of villain you long to see get his just desserts.

Guardians of the Stone currently has three books out, with a fourth due in July 2017. With its clever combination of history and magic, it’s a series that fans of Highland romance will devour, and have them coming back for more.

Highland Fire is available in paperback and audiobook formats, and in digital format for Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook.

— Heather McNamara

Book Review: Falling for the Highlander

Title: Falling for the Highlander
Author: Lynsay Sands
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Print Length: 384 pages

Having been dealt one tragic blow after another, Lady Murine Carmichael comes under the cruel guardianship of her gambling drunkard of a half-brother. When Lord Danvries tries to sell Murine in exchange for a pair of Scottish horses, she decides enough is enough and boldly makes a break for it. To her surprise, Dougall Buchanan, the gallant Highlander who refused her brother’s offer, is more than willing to help Murine escape Lord Danvries’ clutches. Under the escort of Dougall and his valiant brothers, Murine sets out on the journey to freedom. But she gets more than she bargained for when and Dougall find themselves ever more drawn to each other. As she discovers that Dougall’s desire to protect her comes from a place far deeper than mere chivalry, and the passions he awakens within her, it isn’t long before she finds herself slipping under the dashing Highlander’s spell.

In another sweeping tale, Lynsay Sands, bestselling author of the Argenau vampire romance series, takes us back once more to medieval Scotland, where kilted Highlanders offer up body and soul to protect the women they love. Many of the characters in Falling for the Highlander have appeared in previous novels, but while it helps to have read those, it’s not entirely necessary to enjoy this story. Any of Sands’ Highland romances are worth a read, and in this her latest, she continues to deliver the goods. Serving up a tasty dish with the just the right mix of humor and suspense and a generous helping of sex, Falling for the Highlander is tailor-made for reading while sipping a hot mug of tea on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

All the ingredients for an enjoyable romance are present. The story is populated with sympathetic-yet-flawed characters worth investing in and caring about. Murine’s tendency to faint is balanced out with plenty of scenes that show her wits and guts; Dougall is as loyal and loving a Highlander as you could ask for. Sands has a particular gift for drawing out the characters’ growing feelings for one another, capturing the confusion they feel over their increasing attraction and concern. Dougall doesn’t understand why he feels so violently jealous of his brothers’ attention to Murine; Murine doesn’t understand the fierce carnal desires Dougall is bringing out in her. This is a true hallmark of a great romance author—the ability to create characters you want to cheer for even though their words and actions may make you want to bang their heads together.

Another of Sands’ excellent storytelling skills is wrapping an element of mystery within her tales. This mystery is presented here in the form of unanswered questions surrounding the deaths’ of Murine’s relatives and how she wound up under her creep of a brother’s care. This lingering sense of suspense weaves itself seamlessly into the tale as one more obstacle that Murine and Dougall must overcome before they can have their well-deserved happy ending.

Lynsay Sands has delivered another winning Highland romance with all the right stuff. With six more bachelor Buchanan brothers, one can only hope she’ll be penning yet another entertaining story soon.

Falling for the Highlander is available in hardcover, mass-market paperback and audiobook editions, and in Kindle and Nook formats.

— Heather McNamara

A Tartan for Everyone: A Guide to Non-Scottish Tartans

If you’re interested in wearing a kilt, chances are at some point you’ve wondered which tartan you should wear. There are literally thousands of tartans to choose from. You may decide to wear the tartan of your Scottish ancestors or a tartan associated with a particular district of Scotland.

But what if you don’t know which part of Scotland your ancestors came from?  And what if you’re not Scottish at all?

nonscottartansYou absolutely do NOT have to be Scottish to wear a tartan. While tartan patterns may be associated with the Highland Scots and wearing kilts, tartan patterns have been woven all over the world for centuries. You also don’t have to worry about not belonging to a particular clan to wear that clan’s tartan. Most Scots of a particular clan would actually be quite tickled; after all, out of thousands of possible tartans, you chose theirs!

No matter what your ancestry, there is a tartan out there for you. To help you decide which tartan you’d like to wear, here is a guide to the range of possible tartans to choose from.

Universal Tartans

There are certain tartans that are not specific to any Scottish clan and can be worn by anyone. The most popular of these is the Royal Stewart tartan. It is believed to have been worn by supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Other universal tartans include the Flower of Scotland, Heritage of Scotland, Highland Granite, and Caledonia Tartans. These are appropriate for anyone regardless of ethnicity or nationality. They would also be good if you think you may be Scottish but aren’t exactly sure where your ancestors came from.

National Tartans

Prolific tartan designer David McGill has created tartans for several nations of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Many of McGill’s designs were created in recognition of Scotland’s close ties with these countries. For instance, countless European nations such as France, Germany, Denmark, Iceland, and Poland have ancient links to Scotland, having shared cultures and ideas for centuries. If you have any European ancestry, there is almost certainly a tartan for you. The continent of Europe also has its own special tartan, which was created after World War II as a symbol of international peace.

African tribes have their own ancient traditions of weaving tartan patterns. The Masai of Kenya are particularly known for their contribution to this beautiful art. The aforementioned Mr. McGill also has a “Tartans for Africa” collection, featuring tartans for 24 African nations from Angola to Zimbabwe. He has also produced tartans for Asian countries such as China, Japan, and the hopeful nation of Kurdistan. All of McGill’s designs can be found at his International Tartans website.

Tartans exist for practically every nation and ethnic group. No matter what your ancestry, there’s a tartan out there that lets you fly your colors with pride.

Tartans of Ireland and Other Celtic Nations

The Celtic world comprises six nations: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, The Isle of Man, Cornwall, and Brittany. While tartans have been created for the other five nations, this is a subject with a fair amount of controversy.

There is evidence that the weaving of tartans was practiced by all Celtic peoples in ancient times. However, it must be stressed that no other Celtic nation besides Scotland has any tradition of family or district tartans. The Irish tartans that you see advertised in catalogs are recent inventions created to fill the demand for tartans of other Celtic nations.

irish-national-tartan

Irish National Tartan

Some early Irish carvings and illustrations show Irish warriors wearing a leine, a knee-length tunic belted at the waist and often mistaken for a kilt. But there is no definitive evidence that the kilt was worn by any Celts outside Scotland.

In the early 20th century, Irish nationalists advocated wearing solid black or dark green kilts as a symbol of resistance against all things English. This practice never caught on in Ireland, but it took off in the Irish diaspora, where people wanted to show pride in their heritage. This led to an increasing demand for Irish tartans. The first Irish tartans appeared in Celtic catalogs in the mid-1990s. Tartans for other Celtic nations soon followed.

Today, the kilt has become a symbol of pride to all Celtic people. As far as we know, the kilt is the only piece of traditional Celtic dress to survive into modern times. That’s something any Celt can be proud of. If you like Irish or other Celtic tartans, by all means wear them and enjoy them. Just don’t believe it when people tell you they’re of ancient origin.

US State and Canadian Provincial Tartans

An estimated nine to twenty million Americans claim Scottish ancestry. There are millions more who have Scottish ancestry but don’t know it.

Scottish-Americans have played a major part in American history from the beginning. Half the signatories of the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent. So were 11 American Presidents, half the Secretaries of the Treasury, and one-third of the Secretaries of State. With contributions to our nation like these, Americans of Scottish descent can hold their heads up high.

There are 34 American states that have their own tartan. There are an additional 630 tartans representing American companies, cities, police and fire departments, military organizations, schools and universities, sports teams, Highland games, and a wide range of organizations.

In 1998, the US Senate declared April 6 National Tartan Day to recognize the contributions of Scottish Americans to the United States. The first Tartan Day Parade was held in New York City in 1999. It is now an annual event boasting hundreds of pipers, thousands of marchers, and still thousands more cheering from the sidelines in celebration of Scottish pride. Grand Marshalls of the Tartan Day Parade have ranged from noted actors such as Sir Sean Connery to members of Scottish Parliament to prominent kilt designers. This single parade has exploded into a whole week of events including performances by Celtic musicians, exhibitions of kilt collections, presentations, and lectures on notable Scottish Americans.

With the exception of Nunavut, each province of Canada has its own tartan. The colors of these tartans tend to reflect the natural beauty of Canada, such as forests, maple leaves, wheat fields, snow, and the sea.

The map of Canada is sprinkled with Scottish place and family names. Scores of Canadian towns, rivers, and mountains have been named for famous Scots. Notable Canadians of Scottish heritage include John A. MacDonald, the country’s first prime minister; Alexander MacKenzie, the first man to find a route from the East Coast to the West Coast; entrepreneurs such as Donald Alexander Smith, founder of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and Robert Dunsmuir, who became Canada’s first millionaire thanks to building Vancouver Island’s first railway link; and James Douglas, the “Father of BC,” who transformed a small trading post on Vancouver Island into the province of British Columbia.

In the 1960s, Canadians of Scottish descent comprised the nation’s third-largest ethnic group after English and French Canadians. Canadians of Scottish descent have carved out a niche in Canadian history that endures to the present, giving all Canadians something to be proud of.

The Scottish have enriched the histories of the United States and Canada with their contributions to politics, the economy, and numerous other fields. That’s a wonderful reason for any American or Canadian to wear tartan, regardless of ancestry or ethnicity.

Corporate, Organizational, and Military Tartans

There are a number of businesses that have designed their own tartans to promote themselves and unite their employees. The earliest known corporate tartan is that of the Highland Spring mineral water company, established in 1987. Today, companies that have tartans include American Express, Holiday Inn, Compaq, Land’s End, and Tommy Hilfiger. These tartans may be worn by company employees, members, or affiliates. Several charitable organizations have tartans as well, such as the Salvation Army and Amnesty International, Even the Olympic Games has a tartan of its own.

Christian priests and ministers also have their own special tartan. The Clergy Tartan does not represent any particular sect or denomination, so any clergyman may wear it. There is also an Episcopal Tartan designed to mark the bicentennial of the death of the United States’ first Episcopal bishop, and which honors the clergy of the Episcopal Churches of Scotland and the US.

fire fighter tartan

The Firefighter Tartan

Many police forces have their own tartans. Police pipe and drum bands across the world wear tartans when they participate in marches and other special occasions. Police tartans include, but are not limited to, the International Police Association tartan and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police tartan. There is also the Firefighter tartan which honors American firefighters. Designer Linda Clifford makes a donation to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation with every purchase of this tartan.

The use of military tartans can be traced back to the 18th century. In 1725, General George Wade organized the Highland Watches, a militia intended to keep the peace among Highland clans, prevent cattle raiding, and enforce the new disarmament laws. Wade used a tartan pattern to boost the morale of his troops, who would eventually become the Black Watch regiment, and for a time would be the only troops allowed to wear tartan of any kind. Today, several military branches such as the Marines and the Coast Guard have a tartan that has become part of their identity, as do military academies such as West Point and the Citadel. If you’ve served in the military or your family has a history of military service, you might consider wearing a tartan of your military branch.

Celebrity Tartans

In recent times, several famous people have had tartans created in recognition of their talents and gifts to the world. The late Diana, Princess of Wales, for instance, has a tartan designed to honor her for her tireless humanitarian work during her lifetime. Earlier this year, legendary musician Prince was honored after his untimely death with the Purple Rain Tartan, inspired by the star’s signature hit song.

Living people have been honored with tartans as well. In 2014, Caitrionation, fans of Irish actress Caitriona Balfe, star of the hit TV series Outlander, created the Caitriot Tartan to celebrate the one-year anniversary of her casting. The tartan was designed with Ms. Balfe’s favorite colors and hand-woven by fan and master weaver Susan Targove. The finished tartan cloth was presented to Ms. Balfe by her fans along with a donation to World Child Cancer, a cancer research charity which she supports. The Caitriot Tartan is officially registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans.

Design Your Own Tartan

Still can’t find a tartan you like? Thanks to the power of the Internet, you can design your own tartan! Several websites allow users to design their own unique tartan. These sites allow you to experiment with color combinations and thread count, produce an image, use a screen capture to send in a document or Internet file, and order products featuring your own tartan design.

Before you start work on your masterpiece, though, it helps to know a few things about tartan aesthetics and history. Otherwise, your tartan could come out a real eyesore.

First, know the reason why you’re creating your own tartan design. Is it for your personal use? Is it for your company? Your church? A community organization? The story behind the tartan matters as much as the design, so it’s important to establish your reasons for designing the tartan before you start.

Next, read up on tartan history and study existing tartan patterns. As you familiarize yourself with different tartans, learn to analyze what makes a good pattern. Notice the combinations of colors and their position in the tartans and the narrowness of lines. Ask yourself why good tartans work the way they do and then apply what you learn to your own design. And don’t rush it. A good tartan takes time to develop. Play with various colors and line thicknesses until you find a design that appeals to you.

When you’ve got a design that you’re happy with, you may wish to have it woven into a piece of cloth. There are several different companies you can hire to weave your tartan for you. However, try to find a local weaver. This will make it easier for you to consult with the weaver about materials, thread count, and the size of the pattern. You’ll be doing your part to support local businesses, too.

Anyone can wear tartan, regardless of race, nationality, or religion. There is a tartan out there for everyone, no matter where you live or where your ancestors came from. Choose the tartan that appeals the most to you, and wear it with pride.

—Heather McNamara