Edinburgh was awash in more tartan than usual this weekend.
This being Scotland’s Homecoming year – Robbie Burns’ 250th birthday – Scottish descendents from around the world have come back to various events, particularly The Gathering, that took place Saturday and Sunday.
The event consisted of Highland games, dancing, music, clan tents and Scottish food at Holyrood park (behind the palace and parliament at the bottom of the Royal Mile). Saturday night the clans gathered at the palace and began a march to the castle, and we stood outside our pub to watch over 8,000 of them go past, a mile of tartan and bagpipes. When the McGregor clan passed, they stopped to point and cheer and take pictures of the pub.
They all (it seemed) returned later, after the parade, and we were (shock) still there drinking. We made friends with lots of American McGregors, mostly with fantabulous beards.
On Sunday we headed to the festivities. We watched women do a poor job of caber-tossing, large men with spiked boots chucking long hammers. We got free samples from every food stall (Arran Cheese, fresh bread, chicken pie, strawberry ice cream, lots of shortbread, cider, and haggis crisps? which pretty much just taste like pepper).
We stopped by the MacGregor tent, and the man in charge tried to convince us of his clan marketing prowess and how it can benefit our Mcgregor pub. We discovered the (mostly) American brand of enthusiasm towards their clan heritage when an old man from Colorado would spontaneously tell us the entire history of his clan, or MacGregor man would pile clan newsletters and flyers into our hands.
Last night, when we were at work and the festivities at the park had shut down, the McGregors descended upon the pub once again. They were from the States, from Germany, from South Africa, and had dubbed our pub ‘HQ’. They bought t-shirts in droves. When another ‘clansman’ would arrive, the entire back section would erupt in a loud ‘MCGREGOR!’.
The Montana McGregors (one of whom looks like Santa) have invited us to their lake cabin whenever we’re in North America. Jase has their email address.