St. Michael's Blesses Clans

Carmichael, CA  |  Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner
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Daughters of Scotia members (in white) joined dancers from the Kyla Groeschel School of Highland Dance during celebrations at St Michael’s Episcopalian Church, Carmichael.

CARMICAHEL, CA (MPG) - St Michael's Episcopal Church was decked with heather and thistles for a recent pageant that celebrated the regalia of Scottish clans. As kilts swung and bagpipes skirled, ancient tartans (plaids) were proudly presented.

Reverends Rod Davis, John McIntyre and Jason Bense blessed kilts, blankets, shawls -- even neck-ties -- with the sign of the cross. The Sacramento Lodge of Daughters of Scotia hosted the event as a fundraiser for the River City Food Bank.

“Kirkin’” (blessing) services for tartans originated during WW II, when Scottish-Americans staged pageants to support British war efforts. The festivals are still popular among American Celtic organizations.

Participants from as far away as Stockton brought tartans to be blessed at the Carmichael event. Representatives of the US Armed Forces and Sacramento Metro Firefighters and 25 families presented tartans for sanctification. A congregation of 200 joined in hymns and prayers. “It’s been years since we’ve had a kIrkin’ in Sacramento,” said Daughters of Scotia member Kathy Hanson. “There’s a great hungering in the Scottish community to celebrate our heritage in this way.”

A feast of shortbreads, scones and oat biscuits answered another hunger and vanished like mists o’er Loch Lomond. Rounding off the evening, kilted ladies performed Highland flings. A banner bearing the Selkirk Grace (attributed to Scottish bard Robbie Burns) presided over the festivity:

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

Sae let the Lord be Thankit!”

(Roughly translated):

Some have meat and cannot eat

And some are hungry but have no food

But we have meat and we can eat. And so, let’s thank the Lord.

Membership of the Daughters of Scotia Order is available to women of Scottish ancestry and to those who have married into Scottish families. For information, visit: