Burns Night is an annual tradition held on the night of 25th January to celebrate the life of Scotland’s most famous Bard, the great poet Robert Burns. It’s a night of camaraderie and fun, bagpipes and haggis.
It was started a few years after his passing by close friends and family and has now gone global. Centred around the serving of a hearty feast, a dram of whisky, a few recitals and tributes. It’s fun and it’s an important marker for the tail end of January on the social calendar.
This fun night is focused on the meal of haggis, which was once described by Burns as ‘the great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race’. It should be available from the local butcher or supermarket. It will already be cooked, but will need to be reheated until it’s very hot.
For those who don’t eat meat, then there is of course the vegetarian haggis.
Most often served with haggis are turnip and potatoes – otherwise known as neeps and tatties. On this special occasion, they are normally served in their mashed form.
For starters, try either cock-a-leekie soup or Scots broth. To finish, a traditional Scottish desert should be served such as a cranachan or a Clootie Dumplng.
Although each Burns night is an individual affair, it will usually be run in the following order:
- The beginning – as everybody gathers, the host will say a few words, then everybody sits and the Selkirk Grace is said.
- The meal – haggis as a starter that arrives to the pipes. Then ‘Address to a Haggis’ is performed the by the host followed by a toast to the haggis. Then the main meal is served, followed by dessert.
- Afterwards – ‘The Immortal Memory’ is recited followed by ‘Toast to the Lassies’ and ‘Reply to the Toast to the Lassies before a final Burns recital.
- The finale – a vote of thanks followed by the singing of Auld Lang Syne with crossed arms and joined hands to the line ‘And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!’.
Celebrating the life of Rabbie Burns can make for a fun evening. If you opt to hold your own, then you might want to follow the general running order listed out above. If not, then you may opt to add in your own entertainment to spice it up. How about a treasure hunt, a quiz or even a ceilidh?
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