Born to tenant farmers in Alloway in 1759, Burns went on to become Scotland’s best-loved poet and lyricist through poems and songs such as Auld Lang Syne, Scots Wha Hae, The Cotter’s Saturday Night, The Slave’s Lament, To A Mouse, and A Red, Red Rose. He was hailed for his romantic and pastoral poetry and seen as a pioneer of the style. He enjoyed success in his short lifetime but died in 1796 aged just 37. The fact that his poetry remains so well-known and his birthday still celebrated two centuries later shows just what an icon Robbie Burns is to Scotland.
Five ways to celebrate Burns Night on 25th Jan:
1. Burns Night is traditionally a time for coming together for singing, feasting, reading poetry and dancing. Invite friends round for supper, get some musical instruments out and make merry. One of the best Burns night celebrations I went to (okay, the only official one) was an open house with friends and neighbours coming and going all evening and plenty of raucous singing and joyful expostulating over the haggis, plus quite a few tots of whisky. To make your Burns supper go off with a bang, invite guests to bring a piece of poetry to read to others, either one they’ve written themselves or one they love.
2. Enjoy haggis, neeps and tatties http://www.scotland.org/celebrate-scotland/recipes/traditional-haggis-neeps-tatties/ – the traditional Burns’ supper of haggis (sheep or calf offal mixed with suet, oatmeal and seasoning and sealed in a bag, traditionally made from the stomach lining of the animal), turnips and potatoes. Those who felt a bit nauseous at that haggis description can find a vegetarian haggis recipe here. Ask your local butcher for a meat version, and you can often pick up a veggie version from the supermarket (Waitrose do one) if you don’t want to cook it.
3. Remember to ‘address the haggis’ with Burns’ famous poem and expect plenty of hilarity (if you’re not a native Scot) trying to get your mouth around it! With 8 verses to recite, all the family and even your guests can have a go. Find the full poem here but here’s the first verse to give you a taster:
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
4. Check out Scotland.org’s great Rhyme With Rabbie Burns page where you can interactively create your own Robbie Burn’s poetry.
5. Visit Scotland and the Robert Burns Museum. There are always plenty of celebrations and Burns suppers taking place across the country at the end of January, making it a fun time to visit and enjoy their sense of revelry. To find out more about the Bard (as they call him in Scotland), you might like to visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum which is located at the cottage where Burns was born in Alloway. They’re hosting a Burns Night supper at the museum with food, drink and entertainment for £39 a ticket – where better to celebrate!