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What Does The Word Tattoo Mean And Where Does It Originate?


Tattoo was originally a Dutch phrase in 17th Century Holland.


The authorities in Holland would alert people to last orders in the bars by beating drums and blowing horns. Soldiers would know from this noise that it was time to return to barracks. The Innkeepers upon hearing the noise would turn off their taps or doe den tap toe. This phrase was eventually shortened to tap toe, ie tattoo.


It soon became a ritual in the Low Countries and eventually it led into the nightly military procession that we now associate with events, festivals and parades such as The Edinburgh Military Tattoo.



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