When you first read "Ceilidh and Kirkin' o' th' Tartan" you might wish for Scotty to beam down from the Enterprise to translate. But this "Fair and Blessing of the Clans" with its festive banners and bagpipes will take place not on a Scottish heath but at First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City.
At the Kirkin' o' th' Tartan Worship Service the minister blesses the individual clan tartans, or plaids. The tradition probably began in the United States in the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington on April 27, 1941, when the late minister Peter Marshall (chaplain of the U.S. Senate and the Washington St. Andrew's Society) made it an opportunity for all Christians to rededicate themselves to the God of their heritage, the Lord Jesus Christ, and renew their commitment to His service.Angus K. Wilson, a church member, explained that at one time, the wearing of the tartan was outlawed, so clan members had to hide a swatch of their tartan inside their coat. "In church, when it was time for the blessing, they would put their hand inside and touch the tartan so the kirkin' could be carried out." The legends about the kirkin' claim that because of fighting among the clans in Scotland, the wearing of the tartan was outlawed in 1745 so the blessing ceremony went underground. But today the skirl of bagpipes, bright flags and banners make it a joyful celebration.
Janie Glover and Lyle Iverson are co-chairing duties for the tea and food room during the fair. Hearty Scottish dishes like shepherd's pie, Scotch eggs on bibb lettuce, cold poached salmon with cucumber and dill sauce will be available at the lunch and dinner during the festivities. A Battenburg cake and chocolate layer cake with two pastry creams and coffee custard sauce are so sinfully rich they may require penance afterward. Soups-to-go will be Scotch broth and Cock-a-Leekie.
Kathy Gullberg, coordinator of ministries at the church, said that last year 10 clans were represented. "Some of them come from Cedar City, Hurricane and the Provo area," she said. Gullberg told about activities planned for children that will include a "Dunk the Scot" tank, "Fishing for Nessie" and "St. Andrew's Golf Course." Girls will be selling flowers and heather.
Joy Snow is in charge of the program, Susie Davis the bake sale, Bill Thurman the carnival, Carol Farmer, publicity, and Julie Simpson, decorations.
"You'll see lots of plaids, heather and balloons," Gullberg said. The wee laddies and lassies are invited to bring their parents to this delightful Scottish fair.
Ceilidh and Kirkin' o' th' Tartan offer fun and flair
When: Saturday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the ceilidh (KAY-lee)
Sunday, Oct. 28, 11 a.m. to noon for the kirkin'
Where: First Presbyterian Church, C Street and South Temple
What: Ceilidh - A daylong festival for the whole family including:
- A carnival for children
- A program of traditional dance and songs
- A tea room
- Authentic food such as bridies, sausage rolls and scones
Kirkin': Multicolored kilts, colorful banners of various creeds, the hauntingly beautiful sounds of a single piper while Senior Pastor Don Baird blesses the clans in a century-old Highlands tradition.
Cost: $2.50 for adults, $1.50 for children 3 to 12
Benefits: New Hope Multicultural Center
Special guest: British Vice Consul General Angus McKay of the Los Angeles consulate will represent Queen Elizabeth.
For more information: Call the First Presbyterian Church, 363-3889