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Kirkin of the Tartan

What is Kirkin of
the Tartan?

A Kirk is the Scottish name for a church, and the blessing is called a “Kirkin”. The Tartan, with its famous plaid weave, is the symbol of a particular Scottish family (or clan). Each family has a personalized pattern and color scheme. Historically, smaller families often did not have their own tartan, but instead adopted the tartan of a larger clan.  They would also support that clan in battle.  Today, the tartan has evolved, and plaids can represent nations, states, organizations, businesses, societies, and even individuals.  But foremost, the tartan stands as a symbol of a Family.  

The tartans at First Presbyterian Church of Darien symbolize the Scottish roots of this church, the church’s pride in family heritage, and their unity as a church family. During the Kirkin of the Tartans, the tartans are presented by the tartan bearers, and the church requests blessings on them and all families represented there.  “Bless, we pray, these tartans – that they may be to us and to all people a token of the faith of our fathers and a sign of our service to You.”

Also included in the service is the Flowers of the Forest ceremony, where people are invited to come up and place a white rose on a wreath in honor of a loved one lost recently. The Wreath Bearer announces each name as their loved one comes up to place the flower on the wreath. 

The Piper and the bag pipes are a common symbol of Scotland and its culture. Historically, the Piper was a testament to the power and wealth of the Chief of a Clan.  In battle, the Piper remained close to his Chief, inspiring the Chief, and hence his warriors, with music to “stir their brave hearts.” If the battle went wrong, Pipers were not slain, they were captured and the Piper was treated as an honored guest until his Clan could raise his ransom. It is an emerging tradition that at a Kirkin of the Tartans, a piper will play “Amazing Grace.”