Best viewed in
Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan
A Kirk is a Scottish word for
Church. The Kirkin' o' the Tartans is the traditional blessing of the
tartans by the Clergy.
Following the failure of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 when the English
at Culloden defeated the Jacobites, the Disarming Act of 1746 forbade
the Scots from wearing their tartans. The traditional Clan System, with
its representative tartans, was declared forbidden as troops loyal to
the Duke of Cumberland and the House of Hanover ravaged the Scottish
Highlands, searching out Jacobite supporters.
The legend goes the Highlanders hid swatches of tartan fabric among
their clothing when they went to church, and at a predetermined time,
they secretly touched their tartan material during the worship service.
With the coming of the 18th Century, many of these Scots faced the
Highland Clearances. Thousands of Highland tenant farmers were forced
into becoming pioneers in the New World as their former aristocratic
lords drove them off their land, so that they could conduct the much
more profitable business of raising sheep. The Highlander, losing many
of these traditions, became a victim of the Industrial Revolution.
The Kirkin’ o' Tartans was revived during WWII by Reverend Peter
Marshall, then the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. To encourage Scottish
Americans to sign up to fight on behalf of Great Britain, Peter Marshall
recreated the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans ceremony in 1943 to try to instill
pride among Scottish Americans in their Scottish homeland. The Kirkin'
o' the Tartans ceremony was then held in Presbyterian churches across
the USA. Today, the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans is not limited to
Presbyterian Churches, but can be observed in other Protestant and Roman
Catholic services where the ceremony is a great social occasion for
people of Scottish origin to congregate and worship God.