The Clan Henderson tartan is predominately green with large blue and black bands, and small yellow and white stripes. The tartan is available in five variations: Ancient, Modern, Dress, Muted and Weathered. Although these variations incorporate very different colors, they are all considered the same tartan.
Ancient tartans represent plaids that were made with natural dyes. They incorporate the primary color pattern of the clan. However, they are lighter in shade, especially the blue, symbolizing that unlike modern dyes, time will fade the coloring on the tartan. The ancient tartan is representative of a tartan that has been in the family a long time.
Modern tartans represent plaids that are made with chemical dyes, allowing for deeper and darker colors. It also recognizes the fact that modern dyes will not fade in the manner of the ancient tartans. This tartan is representative of a family newly aquiring the tartan material or it can be considered a dsiplay of wealth and prosperity within the family.
Dress tartans replace much of the primary colors with white. In the Clan Henderson tartan, the dress tartan has most of the green replaced with white. Dress tartans stem from the Victorian-era, where custom mandated that women of virtue wear white. Accordingly, the dress tartan is considered a woman’s tartan, and in the Clan Henderson, is not appropriate attire for members of the bodyguard.
Muted tartans provide a color variation from the Ancient and Modern versions. In some clans, the muted version has shades between the Ancient and Modern. The Clan Henderson has a muted tartan with a completely different shade of green, and a slight variation in the shade of the blue. The muted tartan is supposedly representative of a tartan that has faded from wear and the elements. The muted tartan is also considered by some to represent the tartans that would have been buried and hidden when they were banned from wear by the English (1746-1814).
Weathered tartans are designed to look like older, weathered material. The colors can be faded, or in many cases, the greens are replaced with brown. The Clan Henderson weathered tartan follows this convention with brown replacing green as the primary color. This tartan is sometimes referred to as a Hunting Tartan because of it’s predominently brown appearance. However, this is a misnomer–some clans have specific “hunting” tartans–but not Clan Henderson.
Kirkin’o’the’Tartan Worship Service
While the Kirkin’o’th’Tartan service celebrates Scotland and Scottish heritage, it is a truly a Scottish-American custom. Stories abound of the Kirkin’s roots being in days of the Act of Proscription, when the wearing of the kilt was banned in the Highlands – according to the legend, Highlanders hid pieces of tartan and brought them to church to be secretly blessed at a particular point in the service. The real history of the Kirkin’ service is “All American”, with a Scottish “twist”.
The Rev. Marshall is believed to be the originator of the Kirkin’o’th’Tartan service. Rev. Peter Marshall, originally from Coatbridge, Scotland, was the pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington DC, and served as Chaplain of the United States Senate. During the Second World War, Rev. Marshall held prayer services at New York Avenue to raise funds for British war relief. At one of the services on April 27, 1941, Rev. Marshall gave a sermon entitled “Kirkin’o’th’Tartan” -and thus a legend was born. Rev. Marshall was very proud of his home and was a member of the St. Andrew’s Society of Washington DC, who assisted Dr. Marhsall with the first Kirkin’ services. In 1954, the Kirkin’ was moved to National Cathedral (Episcopal) in Washington , DC, where it is held annually in April.
Today, many Scottish, Caledonian and St. Andrew’s Societies across the United States and Canada hold Kirkin’o’th’Tartan while the majority seem to be in Presbyterian Churches, one may also find them in Episcopalian, Methodist, Roman Catholic and other denominations.