Kirkin of the Tartan


Today we celebrated the celebration of the legend of the Kirkin of the Tartan.

Legend goes like this,

On July 25, 1745, the young Prince Charles Edward Stewart, “Bonnie Prince Charlie” returned from exile in France and landed at Lochnanaugh in Scotland where he began to enlist the Highland Clans for an unsuccessful attempt to dethrone George II of England and to restore the Scottish throne to the Royal House of Stewart.

Following Prince Charlie’s defeat, the Act of Proscription — to subdue the vanquished Highlanders — banned the wearing of any sign of the Tartan, forbade any speaking in Gaelic, outlawed Scottish music, dancing, or the playing of the pipes.

During the 36 years following the Disarming Act of 1746 when the Hanoverian English government strictly enforced this ban, during the Sunday service Scottish Highlanders would touch the hidden piece of tartan cloth under their clothes when the minister gave the benediction or kirkin’, thus rededicating themselves to God and their Scottish heritage.

The likely actual story is perhaps more interesting.

The Kirkin’ o’ th’ Tartans service was created or “revived” during World War II by Reverend Peter Marshall, perhaps best known for the biographical book and film A Man Called Peter. Marshall was originally from southwest Scotland, and at one time pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. In 1943 he was the first 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’ th’ Tartans ceremony to instill pride among Scottish-Americans in their Scottish homeland. The ceremony was at that time held in Presbyterian churches of Scottish heritage across the US.

Our Church has always celebrated the roots that tie us back to Scotland. It is always a pleasure to have opportunity to enjoy the fruits of that connection. The Scottish Society of Ottawa helped us celebrate in style. With Tartans worn with pride, the lilt of the pipes and the sweet treats from Scotland.

The day was a celebration that enhanced our love of our varied and impressive history and roots. This coming month we get to further celebrate our diversity and roots. Feb 23, we celebrate Black History month with food from some of our newer members. If you have not tried their previous offerings you are in for a treat.

The nice thing is our reading this Sunday puts this very diversity into Christian perspective. 1 Corinthians 12:12–31

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

So we see in Christ that we celebrate our different origins as they bring about the whole of the body. It is in this we take pride, the strength of our roots makes the melting of our cultures the strong tree we remain.

Take this pride in Jesus name as we strengthen the ties that bind.

Noral R.