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SATURDAY

A friend of arguable Scots-Irish descent used to regularly threaten to do with the kilt what Marion Barry did with kente cloth: wear it to formal events in the name of proudly reclaiming his heritage. But he was a little discouraged when he found out that full Scottish regalia would set him back hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars: A dress sporran (that’s the little belt bag) in mink, coyote, or nutria starts at $267; a Black Watch horsehair sporran will run you more than $500. A formal Bonny Prince Charlie coatee and vest—off the peg—is a comparative bargain at about $260. And don’t get me started on the sgian dubhs and dirks. Apparently, those wacky Victorians made a whole complicated couture out of this former folk garment, once worn primarily for warmth. Of course, my friend wouldn’t want to settle for an outfit without accouterments (and the Scots tend to view American eccentricities such as tartan trousers with indulgence, at best); he’s probably better off observing the third annual National Tartan Day Scottish Festival—held this year for the first time on the Mall—where he can listen to the Pipes & Drums of the St. Andrew’s Society and other Caledonian combos, catch a few strathspeys and jigs, learn about the history and politics of newly legislatured Scotland, and even eat some haggis if he wants. Oh yeah, and check out the tartans—modern, ancient, and formal—that constitute the best-known symbol of his birthright. Leave the kilts to the bagpipers when the festival begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 7, on the National Mall Grounds. Free. (202) 686-1930. (Caroline Schweiter)