Arts & Culture

Kirkin’ o’ Tartan with the Clans at Old North

Old North Church welcomed tartan wearing Scottish “clans” on Sunday in a tradition known as “Kirkin’ o’ Tartan.”

In 1746, the Battle of Culloden marked the last major attempt by the Scots to regain independence from the English by force. In victory, the English punished the Scots by denying them the use of arms and made the wearing of the tartan a penal offence.

In the years that followed, when members of a clan (or family) attended worship in the local Kirk (or church), they would wear a piece of their tartan hidden from view. When the clans were blessed during worship, those present would touch their tartans.

In 1782, the 1746 prohibition against wearing the tartan was repealed, but the idea of the “Kirkin’ o’ Tartan” had been born. The ceremony was restored in America during the 1930s by the St. Andrew Society of Washington D.C.

Photos by Rita Pagliuca and story from Old North.