~Scottish parade heralding the Kirkin'~
When you think of the word 'tartan' it might bring up images of ancient Highland warriors doing battle, or a sexy Highlander hero as depicted on the cover and in the pages of some of our historical romance novels.
The truth is, tartans and of course, kilts are still a big part of Scottish life. That little piece of plaid history is alive and well in today's Scottish culture. Being of Scottish descent, I had the privilege of attending a very special (and I might add serious) ceremony this past weekend called Kirkin' o' the Tartans.
Here are some interesting facts--
If you know your Scottish culture, you know that Scots have always displayed strong Christian convictions, ever since the year 563 AD -- when St. Columba, having discovered the tiny isle of Iona in Scotland succeeded in converting the previous pagan Scots to Christianity. The resulting Church soon became a primal piece in the fabric of day-to-day Scottish life.
Historically tartans have always played a major role in Scotland's culture. In the beginning, the various tartans of the Clansmen represented people of certain districts. In later years the tartans came to stand for all Scottish Clans, including their septs and families regardless of whatever name they bore, that tartans played significant roles in the Highlanders' dress codes and in their distinct battle uniforms is well documented.
As the English ultimately discovered, the tartan was central to the Scottish overall identity and purpose. Historians say that the Protestant Reformation in the 1500's finally culminated in the Proscription Act of 1746, when it became illegal to wear or even to display the tartan, much less play the bagpipes or sing Highland songs.
After the Battle of Culloden Moor in 1746, Scottish Clans were forbidden to wear the tartan, because it was a symbol of Scottish rebellion against England. The Scots would bring bits of their tartan to church specifically to secure God's blessing on their clan colors. Thus, the Kirkin' (means blessing) of the Tartans began.
In America, since 1954, the Kirkin' o' the Tartans as conceived by Dr. Peter Marshall has been held at Washington, D.C.'s historic National Cathedral. A Kirkin' may be held at any given time of the year; but most popular times are Spring (April) and St. Andrew's Day in November. Kirkin' services are held in churches all over the country, not in secret anymore.
At the heart of every Kirkin' o' the Tartans service is always the Presentation of the Tartans of the Clan, Regiment and/or Region, a constant symbol of the re-dedication of Scotsfolk everywhere to the service of their Heavenly Father, and their Heritage.
...On behalf of all Scots away from Scotland, and in the name of all the Scottish Clansfolk that are here represented, we present these Tartans before Almighty God in appreciation of our Heritage... (Prayer from Kirkin' o' The Tartans)
Okay, so this leads to another of those distinctively Scottish and certainly a more fun event, The Highland Games. But I'll save that for another post, since these are held in the summer. Look forward to some real kilt wearin' sword totin' bagpipe playin' guys... talk about heroes! Did I mention Highland dance too?