Tartan Day star turn for Edinburgh Presbytery clerk

Scottish Americans will be given an insight into the significance of the colours of the Kirk’s official tartan.

Rev Marjory McPherson will explain the symbolism in an online address to the Saint Andrew's Society of the State of New York’s online Kirkin' o’ the Tartan service tomorrow.

Rev Marjory McPherson
Rev Marjory McPherson wearing a Church of Scotland tartan stole

The Clerk to the Presbytery of Edinburgh said it is an “honour” to be invited to speak to the New York City-based organisation to mark Tartan Week.

The five colours of the tartan are associated with the liturgical calendar, Christian tradition, traditional uses in the Church of Scotland and links with the nation of Scotland.

  • Purple - Royal colour, sovereignty of Christ, divinity, mountains, heather, thistle.
  • Red - Fire/flame, blood of Christ, Burning Bush, Scottish Lion Rampant.
  • Blue - the sky, Mary, blue associated with the Kirk, St Andrew and the Saltire flag.
  • Green - Growth, ecology, the earth, glens, moors and the thistle.
  • White - light of the world, brightness, joy in Christ, cross in the official emblem of the Church of Scotland and the Saltire flag cross.

The cloth, recorded in the Scottish Register of Tartans, has been used to make ties, bow ties, scarves, facemasks and stoles and can also be purchased for skirts and kilts.

Mrs McPherson wore a stole in her video address for the service, which is usually part of the Tartan Day parade celebrations in New York City on a Saturday close to April 6.

The annual event recognises the contributions of Scottish-Americans.

The minister said the Kirk’s tartan tells a story of faith, heritage, association with the land and of things that “matter in history and throughout time”.

“It serves to remind us of the roots of our tradition whether sacred or cultural and in binding these elements together roots us and links us and shapes us for the way ahead,” she added.

Unity and oneness

Mrs McPherson said fans of TV sci-fi programme, Star Trek, will be aware of the concept of warp drive that takes a person from one place to another in a mythically short space of time.

“The pandemic may have bred warp drive in us as we strive to manage this extraordinary time, it may have deepened or caused a profound sense of isolation,” she added.

“So today in our tartan we remember the weft that we can weave into our days to demonstrate the importance of community and all the strands that make up our lives for Christ called on all people to find unity and be one.

“On this special day when you celebrate the song of your heritage, hearing the pipes and drums and seeing the cloth from which you were woven, may we all together cherish the connections of land, colour, and imagination that can fire us as we seek to follow in faith wherever Christ will lead us as together we are woven into his community on earth."

The Saint Andrew's Society of the State of New York was founded in 1756 to help Scots in need.

In the present day, it provides charitable relief, academic opportunities, and fosters fellowship around a common Scottish heritage.

For more information about Church of Scotland tartan goods and a full price list, email faithimpact@churchofscotland.org.uk