Clan MacFarlane Worldwide, Inc.

Helping To Connect You With Your Heritage


Diaspora - 31 October 2019

Happy Halloween!  

witch 1462734 640


Steve and I are living in an "adults only" community of RVs, so unfortunately, I will not be able to enjoy the little kids in costumes this year.  I won't get to hear the doorbell ring, and I won't get to hand out candy to kids holding onto their plastic pumpkin basket.  But, I can remember my own Halloween runs at the neighbohood for the haul of candy that would last several weeks as my mother doled it out slowly.

My favorites were, of course, Baby Ruth, Mr. Goodbar, Butterfinger, and bubble gum.  Although I am well past my 50's, those were the candies of choice for me many moons ago. There are other candies, of course.  Someone just posted something to facebook about the little wax bottle of coca cola.  There were fizzy straws, Necco's, Mary Jane candy, Milk Duds, Bonamo taffy, and suckers with safety handles (not sure what made them any safer than any other lollipop or sucker, but that was what they were called). There were Popcorn balls and chiclets.  I would collect little rolls of lifesavers and Sweetarts along with rootbeer barrels, lots and lots of Tootsie rolls in a variety of sizes, little boxes of raisinettes and goobers, candy corn in little clear packets, and jaw breakers.  I broke my jaw as a 4-year-old from my dare devil days on a tricycle, so I have always been a bit leery of jawbreakers...

candy corn 1726481 640

And the list could go on.  Long before Willy Wonka candy appeared, the variety of what we collected from the neighborhood was always such a joy.  I think I actully learned simple addition and subtraction with. my Halloween haul.  "If I have 4 Tootsie rools, and I steal 2 more from my sister, Martha, won't I now have 6?!"

I have lived overseas and I know that the candy from country to country is not the same.  So what about the old favorites of children in Scotland?  I found a great website that not only describes all the candy for children, but provides nice photos of each one:  "11 Sweets You'll Remember if You Grew up in Scotland" provides a very nice list of the candies I've never heard of:

1.  Wham Bar

2.  Highland Toffee Bar

3.  Creamola Foam (like our fizzy sticks - filled with a powder you dropped in water to make a fizzy drink)

4.  Cola Cubes (hard candy)

5.  Irn Bru Bar

6.  Sherbert Fountain (comes with a licorice stick to allow the child to suck the contents out of the bag that looks very much like a stick of dynamite)

7.  Chocolate Cigarettes (Oh!  We had these.  My parents forbid me from having these... I suppose they thought I would pick up a nasty habit.  I also think ours had a ton of powdered surgar enclosed so that you could blow smoke out of your mouth after you sucked into your mouth whatever was in it.)

8.  Soor Plooms

9.  Love Hearts (We have these at Valentine time.  You know the ones with sweet little sayings on them.)

10.  Bon Bons

11.  Pop Rocks - Ummm... the article shows something called "Fizz Wiz" that is supposed to be sweet and produce very loud noises.  I have never experienced anything like this.  But there was that one time (not in band camp), my sister, Vashti, and I were commuting to law school.  Vashti was driving her car, and I spied a tin can of bubble gum in the back seat.  Obviously, this was her kids' gum, but I thought we should share her kids' gum for entertainment, so Vashti took a green gum ball, and I took a blue one.  It was yummy!  The gum lasted almost the entire 40-minute drive to class.  Then in an effort to tidy my not-so-tidy hair, I used the mirror and discovered my lips were blue.  My teeth were blue.  My tongue was certainly blue.  I checked with Vashti, and she was a mirror image of me, but in the color green.  We had a great laugh at how ridiculous we looked, and then realized we were scheduled to speak in one of our classes.... perhaps NOT a great time to explore with her kids' gum balls from a tin can!

Well, no matter the haul of candy the kids will get this season, I know that children everywhere are just waiting for the sun to lower today so they can "hit the road" with their plastic pumpkin. As for me and the other adults in my little neighborhood, I was warned that there is some goofy woman travels in her personal golf cart, going door-to-door asking for a "touch" of something for her highball glass.  Geesh... I haven't heard the term "highball" in a very long time.  

I'm certainly getting older.  I guess I better find a bottle of Whisky for later tonight... or just leave our light off.  

Happy Halloween!

Diaspora - 10 October 2019

Kilts and Cowboy Boots

Gathering of the Clans 



cowboy 1129345 640



Can you hear it?  The battle cry of your clansmen? The call for help defending their honor? The weeping? Can you hear the Call?




If you attend the San Antonio Highland Games in April 2020, you will hear the Call! There will be a historic battle to the last tartan pleat. Clans Colquhoun, MacFarlane, MacGregor, and Scott will be combatants against each other. Professional athletes will retire while Clan teams battle for bragging rights on the field in tug-of-war, backward sheaf toss, rustling of the “coos” competitions.  Come and support your Clan claim the championship maug. Click to register (opens October 14th)


guys in cmw kilt



Clan drinks reception with Participant Clans and Clan Chiefs

Clan Scottish Heritage Quiz Competition
Tales of Our Heritage by Guest Speakers
San Antonio  Highland Games including *Clan Battle with Clan MacGregor, Clan Scott and Clan MacFarlane on the games field.

*Hand to hand combat, tug-o-war, wheat sheaf hurling.

Clan Dinner and Reception at Pedrotti’s NORTH WIND Ranch

Diaspora - 23 September 2019



What is a Highland Game?  I am often asked this question.  I quickly say:  “You know, men in kilts throwing heavy objects.”  That usually answers the question.  EVERYBODY knows what a kilt is.

I’ve seen the movie, Braveheart.  I know about the TV series, Outlander.  So I have that same vision in my mind of men in kilts.  My husband owns 3 kilts that were made specifically for him.  Both my children, as well as my son-in-law (a McCoy), own kilts.

I thought I would do a short blog about the great kilt.  I started with Wiki, but I usually like to head to the references to make sure some 6-year-old is not making additions to the wiki.  In the discussion about the great kilt, I was taken to the Scottish Tartan Museum.  But the article about the History of the Kilt was not as much fun as I thought it would be.  So of course, I need to share!


Pictured Above:  The MacFarlanes Company (note the variety in kilts)

First, it appears that the Irish claim the kilt as their own.  They also claim whisky, tartan and anything else you would imagine to be of Scottish origin.  Well, I’m ok with that.  I have some Irish Bailey's in my family tree.

But you quickly start to learn that the origin of the kilt is not really blended into the “made for TV” version of the history of everything Scottish.  That’s a bit of a blow, isn’t it?  Per Matthew Newsome, in his 2003 article:  

(  The kilt is not really a medieval garment.

First:  The issue of the Irish.

Nope.  What is referenced to be the introduction of the kilt in Ireland,  is interpreted to be the leine (that white/off-white underdress).  Short or long, it is not a kilt.  (So sayeth the author.)

Second:  The issue of Pre-Medieval Kilt in Scotland

Nope.  Prior to the 16th century, what might have been deemed a kilt, was actually, again, the leine, or tunic.

BUT… starting in the 16th century you hear mention of the feilidh-mòr or great wrap, and the abreacan-feile or tartan wrap/belted plaid.  A plaid is defined by the author as a “heavy woolen fabric worn over the body like a mantle or a shawl.”  And no… "plaid" is an Americanized word synonymous with tartan.  The belted plaid is a very long plaid gathered and belted at the waist.  The modern reenactors call it the “Great kilt.”  Well, that’s what I’ve always called it too.

Not until 1578 is there a true reference to the belted plaid from Bishop Lesley, of Rome.  “Their clothing was made for use (being chiefly suited for war) and not for ornament.  All, both nobles and common people, wore   mantles of one sort (except that the nobles preferred those of several colours).  These were long and flowing, but capable of being   neatly gathered up at pleasure into folds.”

George Buchanan writes in 1581:  “Their ancestors wore plaids of many colours, and numbers still retain this custom but the majority now in their dress prefer a dark brown, imitating nearly the leaves of the heather, that when lying upon the heath in the day, they may not be discovered by the appearance of their clothes; in these wrapped rather than covered, they brave the severest storms in the open air, and sometimes lay themselves down to sleep even in the midst of snow.”

But, the author tells us that the first real definitive description comes out of Ireland.  (Here we go again…). Fortunately,  Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell written by Lughaidh O’Clery, discusses a group of hired mercenaries from Scottish Hebrides who were employed by O’Donnell in 1594.  Aha!  So it IS Scottish!

The issue of “The Whole Nine Yards.”

I’ve heard that saying too.  “The whole nine yards.”  I had a merchant at one of the Games we attend tell me that this is in reference to the kilt.  When my son-in-law was measured for a kilt, the merchant said that because his is such a big guy, (Dude played football and can lift an entire couch by himself) he would take the whole nine yards.  And then he launched into his historical rendition of the saying.  Actually, this is what those of us in the historical/archival business call “Shanghai History.”  For it is a fact that has now been morphed into something it really isn’t. The fact has been shanghaied for the purpose of a wonderful story.  You know… “It took the whole 9 yards.”

So, how many yards?  Length at 4 or 5 yards.  Plaids had to be about 9 yards, but often 10 to 16 yards in length.  The width of the cloth was only 25” wide.  That would require more length to the cloth to meet the goal.  And the author tells us that often two strips of 25” cloth (the actual width – much smaller in width than today’s cloth) would be sewn together in order to cover the subject.  9 yards of fabric would actually make 4 or 5 yards in total.

The issue of How to wear the kilt

Well, as I usually say, we don’t care what you wear, just show up!  It appears there are no real records to prove how the kilt was worn.  There are pictures, but usually the young man grew up learning how to wear the kilt, just like his father learned, and his grandfather did.  Like tying your shoes.  There are actually a couple of different ways to tie your shoes, but how do YOU tie your shoes?

But if You Really Need an Instruction Here you Go (Straight from the Author)

“Begin by laying your material out on the ground.  To start, you may find it easier to lay it all out neatly, but once you get used to doing this, you will not need as much room-you will only need to spread out the section you are currently pleating.  Gather the center part of the plaid into folds or pleats.  This does not need to be neat, precise pleating as in a modern tailored kilt.  Think of it more as being roughly gathered and you will have more authentic looking kilt.  The end goal is to reduce the 4 or 5 yards of material to a length about 1.5 times your waist measurement.  You should aim to have a section of gathers or folds approximately the length of half your waist size in the center, with unfolded sections of equal length on either end.  Since these folds are not sewn in, they can always be readjusted later.  Precision is not something needed when folding your plaid."

"Lie down on your plaid.   I will frequently have people tell me at this point that it just seems silly to suggest that the Highlanders would have lain down to get dressed.  But keep in mind that these plaids were also used as sleeping blankets and the wearer would have more than likely been laying in his plaid already.  You will need to lay down on your plaid, body parallel to the pleats, so that the lower edge hangs about your knees.  Whether it is above, below, or on your knees is personal choice.  There does not appear to have been a standard length as this woodcut of Scottish soldiers from 1641 clearly shows.”

“Wrap the two unpleated ends around you.  It is suggested that you overlap them left over right.  There is no historical basis for this but it is the way modern kilts have always overlapped.  You will need to take a sturdy leather belt and run it around your waist at this point and fasten it well.  If you have anything hanging from your belt such as a dirk (knife) or sporran (pouch), make sure it is on your belt before you do this.  Every description I have read of how to put on the belted plaid starts off with having the wearer lay out his belt first upon the ground and then pleating his material out on top of the belt.  I do not know why people suggest this.  It is more difficult this way and is pure foolishness.Once you have the belt fastened, stand up.  You are now wearing the belted plaid.  You will notice a large amount of material overlapping your belt and hanging down around your legs.  This material can be arranged around your upper body in any number of ways, depending on the climate and activity level of the wearer.  The illustration above shows some good examples.  It is suggested that the front two corners be pulled around behind your back and tucked in to the belt at the base of the spine.  This will create pockets and allow easy access to your sporran.  The remainder behind you can be pulled up over your head or shoulders in the cold or rain, or left trailing behind in heat.  It can be pulled up and tucked into your belt, forming a large bag for carrying.  Most often part of it is drawn from the back onto the left shoulder and part drawn up under the left arm across the front and pinned together.  This will create a large bag under the left arm, and is quite striking in appearance.   The functions of this garment are many and varied!  But remember when wearing it that the primary concerns are that you are comfortable and covered.  Other than that, feel free to experiment with different ways of arranging it and find one that works well with you.”


Or... You can watch this YouTube video!

So, no; my bubble is not burst.  But at least now I know that the kilt is not as old as I thought it was.  As for the actual tartan…. The earliest tartan, the Falkirk Tartan, is estimated to be from 325 AD.

Search Site

Please consider supporting our efforts.