Kirkin O' The Tartan


After the Battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746, the English Parliament banned wearing tartan, speaking Gaelic, Scottish music, dancing, or playing the pipes. Any person caught doing anything of these could be shot on sight, arrested, or exiled to the colonies. This ban lasted for 36 years.

Legend says the Highlanders devised a plan to hide a piece of tartan in their clothing during church. At a set time during the service, they would hold the tartan and bless it. When the Scots were forced to fight for the British Army, it is said that the women would take a piece of their tartan to the Kirk (church) to be blessed and to pray for protection of their clan. Thus came the Scottish celebration known as the Kirkin' O' the Tartan.

Since 1941, the Kirkin' O' the Tartan has been practiced throughout Canada and the U.S. Instead of hiding the tartan, during the ceremony a representative of each clan place pieces of tartan on the church alter to be blessed.

The Kirkin' O' the Tartan occurs on Saturday April 4, 2009. Services will be held throughout North America. Services often include processional and recession with bagpipes. Adaptations of Ralph Gunn's prayer are common: "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; and we ask His Blessings upon these, His humble servants. O Lord, Thou hast promised that in all places where Thou recordest Thine Holy Name, Thou wilt meet with Thy servants, and bless them; fulfill now Thy Promise, and make us joyful in our prayer, so that our Worship, being offered in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, and by the guidance of Thy Holy Spirit, may be acceptable unto You, and profitable unto ourselves. Bless, we pray, these Tartans --- that they may be unto us and unto all people a token of the faith of our Fathers; and a sign of our service unto You. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Celebrate Scottish traditions - show your knees this year, wear a kilt!

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