Copyright © Scottish Heritage Society of the Rochester, NY Area, Inc. All rights reserved.
Our next event is open to the public:
THE KIRKIN' O' THE TARTAN
Time, date and location will be announced soon
Upcoming SHS Events
Family Potluck Picnic / July 2019 / Location TBD
Visit our SHS Tent at Scottish and Celtic Festivals throughout the area in 2019
Open to the public: St. Andrews Celebration / November 2019 / Location TBD
Open to the public: Robert Burns Celebration / January 2020 / Location TBD
Kirk is the Scottish word for church, and in Scotland the word is synonymous with the Presbyterian Church. Kirkin’ o' the Tartan roughly translates to “Churching of the Tartan” – a blessing of the beautifully patterned fabrics and the heritage they represent. While much of this heritage was suppressed by the English during the 18th century, the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822, and its attendant tartan pageantry, was seen as an affirmation of the culture of the Scottish Highlands. This elevated the tartan kilt to become part of Scotland’s national identity.
In addition to celebrating the secular culture of Scotland, the Kirkin’ is an opportunity to celebrate Scotland’s Christian history. In 563, St. Columba brought the Christian faith to Scotland, where it took root and flourished. In 1547, nearly 1,000 years later, John Knox brought the Protestant Reformation to Scotland from Geneva, Switzerland, exclaiming from the depth of his evangelical zeal, “Give me Scotland, or I die.” The Reformed faith spread across Scotland, and it went on to greatly influence Christianity in America, as waves of Scots immigrated to the New World. Ultimately, the Kirkin’ o' the Tartan is a product of this influence.
Though the Kirkin’ draws on Scotland’s cultural and religious traditions, the service is an American tradition and was first held on April 27, 1941 in Washington, D.C. at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, then under the leadership of Scottish-born Peter Marshall. After Dr. Marshall’s death, the Kirkin’ moved from place to place, and in 1954 it found a home at the Washington National Cathedral. Since then, the service has spread to congregations of various denominations across the United States and Canada.
Here in the Rochester area the tradition of the Kirkin O' The Tartan is upheld by the Scottish Heritage Society, with music provided by the Rochester Scottish Pipe Band, and includes a reading and ceremonial parade of the tartans.