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City of Bethlehem Tartan

August 28th, 2022 |


Combining history, culture, and community is nothing new at Donegal Square-in fact, we thrive on it! There is one item at the store, however, that is almost iconic in its ability to honor this ideal. That is the Bethlehem City Tartan, created by our one and only, Neville Gardner. 

According to Neville, customers repeatedly requested a souvenir that authentically represented Bethlehem. In keeping with the Celtic tradition of Donegal Square, Neville decided that a tartan would be an excellent way to do just that. The notion of an official Bethlehem tartan was born!

Designing for the tartan began in 1993, and many factors had to be considered. Since a well-designed tartan should be aesthetically pleasing, have a minimum of two colors and no more than six, and have a symmetrical design, several Scottish weavers were involved in the creative process. Once the pattern and colors were decided upon, production began. 

In order to acknowledge the immigrants of the Bethlehem area, St. Andrew’s navy blue was chosen to represent the Scots, bright red for the Welsh and English, forest green for the Irish (of course!), and the neutral gray background was included to represent the Moravians and indigenous folks in the area.

The fabric was manufactured in lightweight and kilt-weight versions, depending on its use. Production began, and kilts, vests, ties, hats, scarves, etc., were made in the original fabric.

In 1995 the City of Bethlehem tartan was officially registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans in Scotland. In 1996 the tartan was unveiled with the then-current mayor of Bethlehem, Ken Smith. It became the official tartan for the city and the police and fire departments.

Today the tartan can be seen on police or firefighters when a dress uniform is called for or when they want to share their Celtic heritage. For sure, many will be seen on both police and visitors during Celtic Fest this September.

Suppose you are interested in being a part of the community and culture of Bethlehem. In that case, we have a wide array of products in the City of Bethlehem Tartan available exclusively at Donegal Square in store today!


Fun Fact: Did you know that a tartan went to the moon?

A widely circulated story claims that astronaut Alan Bean placed a piece of the MacBean tartan on the Moon when he participated in the Apollo 12 mission in November 1969. We have the following from Alan, written on 30 April 2005: “As I remember it, I took Clan McBean Tartan to the moon and returned it to Earth. I did not leave any Clan McBean Tartan on the surface. I did, in fact, give a piece of the Tartan to the Clan McBean and also to the St. Bean Chapel in Scotland. And I’ve still got some of it in my possession. I did not, however, leave any of it on the moon.”