Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kirkin' of the Tartans

Here our family wears our tartan and carries our banner for the Kirkin'
It is a curiosity in my church that while others may say that Easter or Christmas services are their favorites, so many of our members say that it is the "Kirkin' of the Tartans" service.  This service is uniquely Presbyterian and while it celebrates our church's (kirk's) Scottish heritage, it is uniquely American.

Because our minister has done the research, I will shamelessly plagiarize our bulletin from this service:

The History: The ceremony of Kirkin' of the Tartan is of American origin, though based on Scottish histroy and legend.  In 1746, Scotland came under British rule after losing the Battle of Culloden and druing this rule the Scots were forbidden to carry arms or wear kilts or tartans representing their Scottish heritage.

The Legend: This act promoted the stubborn Scots to secretly carry a piece of their tartan as they went to the kirk.  The minister then slipped a blessing (a kirkin') into the service for the tartans.  This tartan prohibition lasted for nearly 50 years.  At the repeal of the act, the Church of Scotland celebrated with a Service of Family Covenant, at which time the tartan of each family was offered as a covenant expression for the Lord's blessing.

The First Kirkin': The Saint Andrew's Society of Washington, DC held the first kirkin' during the early years of WWII.  The late Dr. Peter Marshall, a Scot, then Chaplain of the US Senate and Pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, led the service in 1943, choosing"Kirkin' of the Tartan" for the title of his sermon.

Drums and Bagpipes provide the music for this service

Tartan banners line the front of the church

Baillie Ancient Tartan

I was able to order scarves and ties from  They were reasonably priced and were delivered in about 2 weeks.  Since this service occurs every year on Reformation Sunday, we will be able to wear them again.  And you know what?... I can't wait!

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