This Act prompted the Scots to secretly carry a piece of their tartan as they went to the Kirk (church). The minister then slipped a blessing (a Kirkin’) into the service for the tartans. The prohibition against tartans lasted for nearly 50 years. When at last repealed, the Church of Scotland celebrated with a Service of Family Covenant, at which time the tartan of each family was offered as a covenant expression for the Lord’s blessing.
The First Kirkin'
The Saint Andrew’s Society of Washington, DC held the first Kirkin’ during the early years of World War II. The late Dr. Peter Marshall, an eloquent Scot, then Chaplain of the US Senate as well as a pastor, led the service in 1943, choosing “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan” for the title of his sermon. He had preached many sermons in support of the British War Relief and the Scottish Clans Evacuation Plan. As the war continued, the DC St. Andrew’s Society continued to hold prayer services for the British subjects. These became known as Kirkin’s.