Rabbie Burns Day

25th January is “Burns Day” It marks a celebration of the life and poetry of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) He was the author of many Scots poems and songs. Traditional Burns Suppers/Dinners are held on or near the poet’s birthday, 25 January, “Rabbie Burns Day” 

Burns Supper Uncovered

Guests are normally welcomed by the sight and sounds of a piper and his bagpipes. Guests gather and blether before the organiser or host welcomes everyone to the Burns Supper.

Guests are seated and the host will say the well-known thanksgiving Selkirk Grace. It is said before meals using the traditional Scots language. 

 

Some hae meat an canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat,
 
and we can eat,
 
And sae the Lord be thankit.

The Burns Supper starts with a traditional Scottish soup, usually Scotch broth. Although potato soup, cullen skink, or cock-a-leekie can also be served.

The next course is the famous haggis which is delivered by way of a procession during which everyone stands. The haggis is carried by the cook to the sound of bagpipes, and makes its way to the top table. It is then placed in front of the host who then “Addresses the Haggis”

As the words “His knife see rustic Labour dicht” are spoken, the host normally draws and sharpens a knife. At the words “An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht”, the knife is plunged into the haggis and it is then cut open from end to end. 

A whisky toast is made, and the haggis is then served with the traditional neeps and tatties (mashed swede and mashed potatoes)

The dessert course, normally Cranachan, is a traditional Scottish dessert of whipped cream, whisky, honey, fresh raspberries and toasted oatmeal. An alternative is the Tipsy Laird (whisky trifle).

When the meal reaches the coffee stage, various speeches and toasts are given.

The host gives a speech with remembrance to Rabbie. This may be either light-hearted or serious, but it will probably include a recital of a poem or a song by Burns. Finishing with a toast to the “Immortal Memory” of Robert Burns.

A short set of two speeches follows. A male guest thanks the women who have prepared the meal in the”Address of the Lassies”. This address is normally found to be amusing and not offensive. A toast is then made to the women’s health. A female guest will then respond in good humour with the “reply to the laddies” and reply to any specific points raised by the previous speaker. In organising the evening, the speakers will normally collaborate so that the two toasts complement each other and are fun for the listeners.

The evening may then have further songs and poems by Burns that are performed by invited guests or performers. Scottish music may be played for ceilidh dancing.

At the end of the evening thanks is given and everyone stands to join hands to sing “Auld Lang Syne“.

Visit Scotland's guide to your very own "Burns Night"

More Online Burns Facts

Janey Godley’s Big Burns Supper
Aberdeen University - Extraordinary Burns Supper
NTS - Robert Burns Birthplace

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