Kirkin' o' the Tartans

~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?



Sarah Simas said...

Thanks, Kaye for that wonderful post on a very cool topic. I'm off Scottish decent and love Scot history. I want to trace my family tree one day. My maiden name is one that belongs to one of the largest clans. There has to be some good story material in there!lol

Sept is the month for my area's Highland games and I'm going for the first time. Tempest is going to play there. So, my crit partners and I are going to go be groupies. LOL I'm bringing my camera and if I spot hotties with naughty bodies in kilts, I'm so posting them! LOL

Suzanne said...

Some fascinating facts about tartan there, Kaye. We live in Scotland and my daughter's wears a tartan kilt as part of her school uniform.

Kaye Manro said...

Oh Sarah, you'll have so much fun at the Games, believe me! Take lots of photos and do post them.

You should trace you Scottish roots. You may find some interesting surprises there!

Kaye Manro said...

Suzanne, that is so cool. We know where we can get more Scottish info if we want it!

Catherine Bybee said...

Damn well better take pictures, Kaye. Or I might have to fly cross country and kick some A$$! lol
Awesome post, as always.

Why are men in skirts such a turn on? Damn... Although if a man walked down the street in a moo moo we'd call him nuts and look the other way... In a kilt we'd toss dollar bills at him and say "Your place or mine?"

Oh, sorry... is that just me? *hangs head*

Kaye Manro said...

Oh no Catherine-- I'm with you on the tossing thing! It is just so sexy to see a guy in a kilt! At least here in the States. Wonder how those who actually live in Scotland feel?

Christina Phillips said...

Fascinating post, Kaye, i didn't know about the Kirkin o' the Tartans. I remember seeing loads of men in kilts when I was younger, but I was that young I didn't see anything sexy in it!!!

Debs said...

Your posts are always so interesting, and I never fail to learn something new.

My husband's father was scottish and so R has a kilt that he sometimes wears. He looks gorgeous in it too.

Cari Quinn said...

Such an informative post as always, Kaye. :) I'm part Scottish and really should do some more research into my heritage.

Linda Banche said...

Great post with lots of great information.

Helen Hardt said...

I've seen my husband in a kilt, and it's a beautiful sight indeed ;).


Genella deGrey said...

Mmmm, notin' like a big brawney Highlander in a kilt.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

No scottish blood here, but a fascinating post. I enjoyed reading it. One never knows when I'll need information about the
"Kirkin' o' the Tartans"


Tonya Renee Callihan said...

I always love your posts. It's like going back to history class. Which was fun for me. I always learn something new and interesting.

And yes a man in a kilt is a turn-on!!