On Sunday, October 26th, First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort will celebrate its third annual Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan,
a Presbyterian tradition in which church members present their family Scottish tartan to be blessed. This year thirty families will participate in the service after which they will parade around the historic Beaufort church area with their Clan Tartans flying to the tune and beat of Scottish bagpipers and drummer. The 2008 service will feature Dr. Jim Simpson of Scotland who serves as Dir. of Church Relations at Presbyterian College. Commencement will begin at 11 am at First Presbyterian Church followed by a parade of tartans and families. The public is welcome and everyone is invited to join the parade and enjoy light refreshments afterward. Music will be provided by members of the Charleston Police Pipes and Drums.
Kirk is a Scottish word for Church and a Tartan is the traditional pattern of unevenly spaced stripes crossing at right angles woven into a woolen fabric that distinguishes the various Scottish Clans. Thus, the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan is the traditional blessing of the tartans by the Clergy.
The Kirkin' o’ the Tartan was revived during WWII by Reverend Peter Marshall, then the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. To encourage Scottish Americans to sign up to fight on behalf of Great Britain, Peter Marshall recreated the Kirkiní oí the Tartan ceremony in 1943 to try to instill pride among Scottish Americans in their Scottish homeland. The Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan ceremony was then held in Presbyterian churches across the USA and many churches continue to hold this annual ceremony today.