Burns Night is celebrated in honor of the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759–1796).
Filled with traditional music, singing, poetry, and stories, the celebration of Burns’ life and his work live on.
When is Burns Night?
Burn’s Night is celebrated on January 25th, celebrating the birthday of Scottish National poet. It is likely that Burns Night is celebrated more extensively than the official national holiday of St. Andrew’s Day.
The Story of Burns Night
The first Burns Supper was held on July 21st, 1801, the day of the poet Robert Burns’ death. A group of friends, wishing to remember Burns and his work, came together to hold a supper in his honor. Little did they know that this small gathering would lay the foundation for a tradition that would continue for centuries to come.
The following year, these friends formed the Burns Supper Club, with the goal of keeping Burns’ memory alive through annual celebrations of his life and work. However, a year later, they discovered that Burns’ actual birthdate was January 25th, and they made the decision to move the celebration to that date instead.
- Born January 25th 1759
- Died July 21st 1801
What to do on Burns Night
Fast forward to today and friends and family gather every January 25th to continue this tradition. The Burns Supper has become a beloved event, filled with the warmth of camaraderie and the joy of shared memories. The highlight of the night, of course, is the toasting of the haggis, a Scottish delicacy that Burns himself wrote about in his famous poem, “Address to a Haggis.” Guests will also enjoy recitations of Burns’ poetry, accompanied by a tipple or two of whisky.
What to do on Burns Night
- Hire a piper
- Address to the Haggis
- Toast with whisky
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Piping the Haggis
The evening begins with the guests being piped in with bagpipes – real or recorded.
If you attend a formal Burn’s night, Bagpipes will be played, during the evening. Piping the Haggis, is when the Haggis arrives while a piper plays a traditional tune. Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
The Selkirk Grace
The Selkirk Grace: A prayer of thanks attributed to Burns, although it was well known before he recited it at a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk in 1794.
Parade of the Chieftain Haggis
The chieftain haggis is traditionally piped in, on a silver platter carried by the cook. During the procession, guests clap in time to the music, until the Haggis reaches the table.
As it’s laid down, the host recites the “Address to a haggis”
The “Address to a Haggis” is a poem written by Robert Burns in 1786. It is a humorous tribute to the Scottish dish haggis.
Address to a Haggis
The host recites the poem “Address to a Haggis” with as much gusto as possible, directly to the haggis.
At the first line of the third verse, the speaker draws and sharpens (or mimes sharpening) a knife, and at the next line – “An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht” – plunges it into the haggis and cuts it open from end to end.
At the close of the recital, the company toasts the haggis and then settles down to eat it.
What to eat on Burns Night
The first course of a Burn’s Night menu is usually Cock-a-leekie or Scotch Broth.
This is followed by Haggis, Neeps and Tatties.
For desert, Clootie Dumpling (a pudding prepared in a linen cloth or cloot) or Typsy Laird (a Scottish sherry trifle).
Where to Buy Haggis
Many supermarkets in Scotland and the UK sell haggis, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons. These stores may also offer vegetarian haggis options.
Online, local and specialty stores may also sell haggis, including butchers and Scottish food shops. These shops may offer a wider variety of haggis options and can provide advice on cooking and serving haggis
Celebrate with your friends
Over the years, the tradition of the Burns Supper has continued to spread, and now friends and family gather every January 25th to pay homage to Burns and enjoy the warmth of each other’s company. They’ve all become a part of a grand tradition that keeps the memory of Robert Burns alive, and they all felt a deep sense of pride to be a part of it.
But the Burns Supper is more than just a celebration of food and drink. It is a celebration of Burns’ legacy and the impact that his work has had on Scotland and the world. It’s an opportunity for us to come together and remember the life of this great poet, and to keep his memory alive for future generations.
- Get your friends round for dinner
- Dress up
- Have some great conversation
- A warming supper
- Raise a toast to Robert Burns and Friendship
- Read some poetry
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