Yesterday afternoon we attended a service called the Kirking of the Tartans. This event was a part of the NB Highland Games. People representing many different families with ties to the Scottish clans gathered together in the workshop tent for scripture readings, and prayers of blessing on the tartans and the families who wear them.
For people of Scottish descent, an highland games weekend is a chance to tap into that part of their heritage, and for those who are not it gives a glimpse into where we come from culturally speaking. Walking around the grounds you can hear pipes and drums warming up all around, Celtic fiddle tunes, lots of Scottish accents, and the announcer saying how far someone just threw a hammer, large stone or telephone pole. You will see men, women, and children in various forms of Highland dress along with plain old shorts and t-shirts. You can shop a little at the vendors who are selling everything from stuffed Scottish cattle, to full regalia including brogues, socks, jackets and the whole nine yards (kilts). You may choose to eat at the tea tent for some haggis on a bun, Scotch eggs, scones and short breads, or at the Belgian waffle stand, the kettle chip stand, wet your whistle at the beer tent, or get a hamburger or other fair fare like cotton candy. Along with all this there are workshops, competitions, genealogy tents and tents representing many of the clan associations.
I really like that amidst all the bustle and fun, time is taken to acknowledge the central role Christianity plays in this heritage. The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, but many denominations make up the fabric of the land. So one clan at a time, people took a sample of their tartan to the table and as the blessing was pronounced they touched the cloth that represents a link to their heritage.