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Robert Burns & the Burns Supper

Robert Burns (1759-1796) often referred to as Rabbie Burns was Scotland’s National Bard & is probably among one of the most famous Scots known Worldwide.


He wrote many well-known poems including:-

Address to a Haggis

Tam O’Shanter

To a Mouse

A Red, Red Rose

& the one we all love to sing at New Year…Auld Lang Syne.




Robert Burns - Image in Public Domain

Most of Burns works are written in English & Scots Dialect making it easier for the wider audience to appreciate his work. In truth although he died at a fairly young age he went on to become a cult figure in the 19th & 20th Centuries. Something that is perhaps still the case today when you look at the number of Burns Societies appreciating his works worldwide.


I think everyone has their own favourite burns song or poem. Mine is Definitely Tam O’ Shanter! I can remember sitting wide eyed in Class at Primary School as the teacher read it out verse by verse. I could almost picture Tam riding through the storm on his horse Meg & the sight that Tam saw when he looked through the church window at old nick & the dancing witches…it is quite a hunting poem.


As a Nation many Scots celebrate his life & work on Burns Night which takes place on the 25th January each year. Why the 25th January you might ask? It is because Rabbie was Born on or about the 25th January 1769 in Alloway, Ayrshire, in fact the cottage where he was born still exists & is probably one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland.


Burns suppers can range from formal gatherings to informal parties, but most involve the eating of a Scottish Meal, Burns works being Recited, a splash of tartan & a few Whiskies of course.


Whisky Glass - Wiki Commons 'Culligan1984'

The evening will normally start with ‘Selkirk Grace’ & will be followed by Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, or Haggis, Turnip & Potatoes for those not so familiar with Scots Dialect. The Haggis will be piped in by someone playing bagpipes & will be cut open & served whilst reciting ‘Address to a Haggis’.


It’s funny but at some point, most Scots will be asked what a Haggis actually is!



Haggis - Wiki Commons 'Zoonabar'

It is a small creature from the Highlands that has longer legs on one side of the body & shorter on the other which makes it easier for the animal to run around the mountains. I did notice a stuffed one whilst visiting Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum some years ago…so it makes you wonder if the creature is fictional fokelore or not!


In reality it is a pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver, lungs, oatmeal, suet, onion, spices, & salt & at a Burns Supper will be served with Mashed Neeps & Tatties.



Haggis, Neeps & Tatties - Wiki Commons 'Mo'

Any Starters or Sweets being served will normally be of Scottish origin e.g. Scotch Broth, Cranachan, Oakcakes & Cheese


Following the meal a few Whiskies will be consumed & the host or other participants will recite some of Burns’ works.


Why not arrange your own Burns Supper this year! You can find recipes for some of the foods mentioned in this article on my Scottish Food Pinterest Board


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