Dear Professor O'Donnell,
An advertisement for your "National Days" conference has been posted, somewhat oddly I feel, on 'Britarch', an archaeological discussion group, under the aegis of the CBA, to which I subscribe, and there are a some points with which I would like to take issue.
The first is the grouping of the Scots as a "nation" alongside the Catalans and Québécois. While I agree that the dictionary definition of a nation is sufficiently broad so to do (Chambers, that is; the Concise Oxford definition is tighter), it implies that the Scots are on the same level as a group of American Indians, the Six Nations for example. My perception of the Québécois is that they are the provincial remains of a French imperial venture, who incidentally do not seem to be regarded with a great deal of favour by the rest of the nation within which they live, namely Canada. [Catalonia seems to have an identity crisis as well - its own English-language website describes it as " a Mediterranean country located on the northwestern triangle of the Iberian Peninsula." I would think that is where Galicia sits. I find myself wondering if you did not mean the Basques?]
The status of the Scots is very different from your other two examples, I would suggest. The latter are hanging on to some sort of ethnic and linguistic identity each within a larger nation. In contrast, as well as having a homeland nation in their own right, (and I have seen it described as "The first nation in Europe") the Scots also have a national identity in a much wider sense, as they have taken their recognisable culture (albeit variously described by some Scots, somewhat disparagingly, as "kilts/tartan/heather/whisky and bagpipes") world-wide.
Burns' Night is a worldwide recognition, in some cases independently of any local Scottish influences, of a cultural (in its very broadest sense) achievement by a Scot. If you are defining Burns' Night as a "National Day" for the Scots you should also include Hogmanay, which is also a very considerable celebration, and one that has again been adopted by non-Scots well beyond the national boundaries of Scotland.
It is probably not surprising that the UK does not have a "National Day" - it is a relatively modern construct of pre-existing nations and part of a nation (each of which has its own national day, but apparently dominated by one of the partners), which seems at the moment to have been deconstructed by the politicians for reasons best known to themselves. This deconstruction, incidentally, now seems to have the present government in a quandary as they try to define "Britishness".
Scotland's national day is St Andrews Day, and I presume that it is no coincidence that it falls during your conference weekend. At least, for a Scottish university hosting a "National Days" conference, I very much hope that it is not a coincidence.
Incidentally, from your website, the paragraph on cost appears in the Gaelic version, but not in the English or French versions, as displayed on my computer, while the Gaelic has the cost but does not have the '250 words' paragraph. I think that there is something missing from the Catalan version as well, although I accept that by now it may well all be academic.