Burns Night 25 January
Burns Night on 25 January marks the anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns. Burns Suppers are enjoyed all over Scotland (and beyond) to celebrate.
Who was Robert Burns?
Robert or Rabbie Burns is arguably best know for Auld Lang Syne (which, less than 4 weeks ago at Hogmanay, you may well have been trying to sing!). Born in Ayrshire in 1737, he wrote over 500 poems and songs, before his premature death at the age of 37 in 1796. These compositions include traditional ballads and romantic songs, humorous satires and thought-provoking poems and many include some of the world’s most instantly recognisable lines of poetry and song lyrics.
Considered a revolutionary figure, both in Scotland and beyond, Robert Burns’ social commentary and political focus made him a great source of inspiration to the founders of Liberalism and Socialism.
My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.
My Heart’s in the Highlands 1789
What is a Burns Supper?
The tradition of holding a Burns Supper started five years after the death of the poet. In July 1801 nine of Burns’ close friends got together to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend’s death. They celebrated with a meal, performances of Burns’ work and a speech in honour of the great Bard. This was the first Burns Supper! The evening was a resounding success. The friends vowed to hold similar suppers every January to honour the birth of the poet.
Traditionally a Burns Supper begins with a few words from the host to start the evening. The Selkirk Grace heralds the meal and the haggis is traditionally piped in. After eating, the first Burns recital is performed, followed by the main tribute speech to the poet (the Immortal Memory). The evening continues with a second recital, a Toast to the Lassies, Reply to the Toast to the Lassies, and a final recital. At the end of the evening, there is a vote of thanks from the host. Everyone joins in for a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne!
Nowadays not all Burns Suppers are this traditional. You can host your own and ring the changes with perhaps a quiz, Scottish music, a ceilidh, or even a treasure hunt! Whatever you do, its a celebration, and should be fun!
Burns image Clip Art