In Scotland, every year on January 25th we celebrate Burns Night. Burns Night is the birthday of Robert Burns a famous Scottish Poet, mostly famous for his song Auld Lang Syne.
After Robert Burns died the tradition began after his friends gathered to commemorate his life and career on the date of his death July 21st. The celebration has since shifted to January.
This started off the Burns Supper, it has been more than 200 years since it began and has become one of Scotland’s biggest events of the year.
Who is Robert Burns?
- He is also known as Rabbie Burns
- Robert Burns was born in Alloway, Ayrshire, his parents were tenant farmers.
- Burns began writing at a young age and by the time he was 27 he had become famous across the country having published poems such as ‘To a Louse’, ‘To a Mouse’ and ‘The Cotters Saturday Night’.
- He travelled across Scotland, involving himself in matters and relationships that would inspire his poems, such as ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
- After he returned home he became an Excise Officer in Dumfries and settled down with his wife Jean Armour. He continued to write politically radical poems of which he was famous for. His most famous was ‘For A’ That and A’ That’.
- Due to his fast paced lifestyle Burns’ health began to deteriorate and he died at 37 in 1796 and was buried with full civil and military honours.
- In 2009 he was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public, narrowly beating William Wallace.
He will be remembered for such poems as
‘Scots Wha Hae’
‘Tam o Shanter’
‘A Red, Red Rose’
And most famously ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which is renowned across the globe as the song most commonly sung in English on Hogmanay.
What is a Burns Supper?
- Most people would host/attend a Burns Supper
- The guests would be piped into the venue at a formal event, however most people just play traditional Scottish music
- You might have a ‘dram’ of whisky before or after the meal… or both
- Traditionally you would then stand around the haggis at the table while the host recites the poem by Robert Burns ‘Address the Haggis’
- At the end of the poem you would then sit down to a meal of haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes).
- You can follow this up with a traditional Scottish desert – like Cranachan! Or you could even another whisky.
- Historically the men would recite the poem ‘Toast to the Lassies’ giving thanks to the women who made the meal. This is then retaliated with a poem ‘To the Laddies’ from the women.
- At the end of the evening everyone will gather to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
- Some people might throw traditional Scottish ceilidhs, with music, kilts and dancing.
Here is an extract from ‘To a Mouse’ to get you ready for Burns Night
Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
Burns Night is on Wednesday this year, try to make sure you experience it for yourself! Either host your own Burns Night or go out and find one, there will be loads of restaurants around Aberdeen catering for the celebration.