Historic Christ Church to Host Kirking of the Tartan

April 2016

The Foundation for Historic Christ Church will be the site of the annual Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan on April 24 at 12:30 p.m. Grace Episcopal Church, Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church, and the Kilmarnock & District Pipe and Drums will assist in the program while St. Andrew’s Society of Williamsburg will act as color guard.

The word Kirking comes from the Scottish Gaelic word for kirk, meaning church, or, in this case, “blessing.” Tartans are the traditional plaid emblems of Scottish clans. According to Marilyn Hedges, publicity chair, many attendees at the Sunday service will wear tartans representing their clans.

Although the legend of the Kirkin’ goes back to 1745 and “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” it wasn’t until the 20th century that the custom came to America. The Reverend Peter Marshall, one-time pastor of Washington, D.C.’s New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, recreated the ceremony to instill pride among Scottish-Americans in their Scottish homeland. Today, people of many denominations remember the Highlander patriotism, faithfulness, and independence by the wearing of the tartans and the playing of the bagpipes.