Who IS Robert Burns and why is he celebrated?
Robert Burns, otherwise known by most Scots as ‘Rabbie Burns’, was a prolific Scottish Poet (among other things), heralded as the pioneer of the Romanticism Literary Movement of the 18th century. The celebration we still enjoy today is celebrated every 25th of January, which was Robert Burns birth date.
If you’ve never been to a Burns Supper, I highly recommend it for the fun and ceremony of it all, but you can do a similar, less formal event at home for family and I’ll talk about how and what we’re doing for tonight a bit further down. First I’m going to tell you a wee bit about some of ‘Rabbie Burns’ most common works.
The most famous of all would be ‘Auld Lang Syne’, it’s not just sung by the people of Scotland at the stroke of Midnight at New Year, but all over and often accompanied by a dance. It is also sung on Burns Night.
Other works that are reasonably well known are:
- Scots Wha Hae – The unoffical Scottish National Anthem for a long time before ‘Scotland the Brave.
- Tam O’Shanter
- To a Mouse (my favourite)
- Ae Fond Kiss
- A Red, Red Rose
and on Burns Night one that’s said as part of the ceremony…Address to a Haggis.
Burns Suppers are still widely celebrated in Scotland and there are a number of traditions involved. Whether you have a family do at home or attend a formal event there a some things which are a must.
Everyone stands to greet guests and welcome them to the celebration, once everyone has arrived all gather together round the table as the host says a few words of general welcome. Everyone then sits and the Selkirk Grace is recited.
Once the starters are finished the piper (be it CD or a hired Piper) will pipe in the Haggis. The host will initiate a toast and recite the aforementioned poem ‘Address to a Haggis’ and cut the haggis to the words “An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,”. Once the poem is finished, the main meal is served up to guests, eaten and followed by pudding, which is traditionally Cranachan.
After the meal, more of Burn’s poetry is recited, there is often the Immortal Memory speech and a toast the lassies and a reply to the toast of the lassies before a final recital.
The host will give thanks and everyone will sing Auld Lang Syne to end the night, crossing arms and performing the traditional dance.
This is considered a traditional running order, however, there’s nothing to say you can’t add in a Ceilidh or a quiz or other traditional Scottish games, Burns would be cool with it, as long as fun was being had!
We’re sticking to tradition this year and may consider something a bit more extravagant next year and invite some friends over to join with us. For L’s first introduction though, we have made home-made cock-a-leekie soup, we have haggis neeps and tatties for our main course and though Cranachan is usually Raspberry, Whisky and Cream, we have done Chocolate Fudge as my husband is a fussy git! (Took me ages to convince him to even try haggis tonight!) We have Highland Music to play,
L’s been making decorations and we’ll hang them shortly -some tartan paper chains!
I’ve got a book of Robert Burns Collected Works to do some recitals…there’s no way James will get his face around the Scots dialect to recite any. I’m unsure what I’ll be reciting at the moment, but winging it is my forte!