‘Slice open the haggis and have a wee dram of whisky to Auld Lang Syne me laddie’. No idea what we’re talking about? Well perhaps read on before attempting to throw your very own Burns Night for you friends!
What is Burns Night?
Burns night originated as a celebration of the life and works of Scottish poet Robert Burns (often referred to as Rabbie Burns), though for many it has arguably evolved into a celebration of all things Scottish. The evening involves hearty cuisine, speeches and joyful comradery. In other words, the perfect excuse for a wee party!
When is Burns Night?
The festivity takes place on 25 January, the poet’s birthday, tracing way back to the fifth anniversary of his passing in 1801.
What is Burns Supper?
Whether you love it or your stomach turns at the thought of it, haggis is certainly the symbolic heart of Burns Night. The dish includes what is known as sheep’s pluck, containing the heart, liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, and seasoning. Traditionally the mixture is encased in the animal’s stomach, though nowadays generally an artificial casing is used in it’s place. It is then baked or boiled before being served with the rest of the meal. If you made it through that description you might like to have a go at a traditional haggis recipe. If instead you made it through a few sick bags, you might want to try out a tasty vegetarian haggis recipe!
Neeps and tatties
The mandatory accompaniment to haggis is always a mashed mixture of swede and potato. Whether you like yours a bit rough or as a smooth purée, don’t forget it! Give it a go with this neeps & tatties recipe recipe.
Time for desert! And because Burns Night is a Scottish tradition, it’s time to bring out the whisky. The recipe includes cream, fruit, oatmeal and a few tablespoons of good scotch whisky.
What Activities and Traditions Take Place At Burns Night?
Guests should be greeted to the party and entertained throughout the evening with the playing of bagpipes – though having a look on YouTube for ‘Scottish Bagpipes’ may also be acceptable.
Address to a haggis
After the haggis is brought through to the sound of more bagpipes, somebody will then recite the Burns poem Address To A Haggis. He really did love the stuff!
Toasts and speeches
Once the meal is finished, various toasts and speeches are welcomed. Including the address to the lassies and the address to the laddies, followed by further recitations of Burns’ works.
Auld Lang Syne
To bring a close to the evening, guests are asked to stand, join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne by Robet Burns. Whilst many relate the song only to New Year’s Eve, it is actually appropriate to sing as a farewell for all occasions. Especially those celebrating the life of it’s author!