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Burns Night in Scotland

Robert Burns Night

The 25th of January is a night of celebration in Scotland as we celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns.
Burns night is widely celebrated across Scotland and throughout the world. Shortly after Burns death, his friends made a promise to celebrate his life every year on July 21st, the date of his death, but this has been changed to the 25th of January, the date of his birth.

Over the years I was very lucky to photograph the famous Burns supper which took place in Burns Cottage in Alloway. People from all over the world came to the cottage in their traditional attire and listened to poems and music written by Burns himself, including the famous Tam o’ Shanter, Auld Land Syne and To a Mouse. The cottage where Burns was born was the site for the first ever Burns supper and is now celebrated around the world with the main purpose to celebrate the life of one of the greatest Scots in history.

Burns supper being held in Burns Cottage

The famous Burns Supper being held in Burns Cottage

The famous Burns Supper would also take place on the night of the 25th of January which is the highlight of this cold wintry month. Friends and family would be invited to your home where family members would recite a poem or two, before getting stuck in to a feast of dishes including the famous haggis, washed down with a dram of the best whisky.

Serving up some lovely Cranachan

Cranachan

Serving the Haggis

Serving the haggis, neeps and tatties

A man enjoying the night at Burns Cottage

Guests from all over the world come to enjoy the night

 

“What is Haggis”, I hear you ask. Well it plays a huge part in Burns Night as the great man himself was a fan of Scotland’s national dish. He once described it as the ‘Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin Race’ in his ode to the dish, called Address to a haggis. Haggis is more of a savoury pudding with the main ingredients being the liver, heart and lungs of a sheep, minced with beef and oatmeal and seasoned with vegetables, pepper and spices. Then it is rammed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled. Once it is cooked it is usually served with neeps and tatties (turnip and potatoes). Not for the Squeamish.

Address to a Haggis

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 wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

Address to the Haggis

Address to the Haggis

Once the meal is finished, it is time for the speeches and the main toast of the night, to the immortal memory of Robert Burns.

A Bottle and Friend

Here’s a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be o’ care, man?

 

A Scottish bagpiper at Burns Cottage

Time for some music

The music will then follow the speeches and usually ends with a rousing rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” marking the end of a great Burns Night before it is time to call it a night.
Why not learn a Burns poem yourself. Here is a list of our favourite Burns poems that you can learn and enjoy.

‘A Red, Red Rose’
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune …

‘Tam o’ Shanter’.
O Tam! had’st thou but been sae wise,
As taen thy ain wife Kate’s advice!
She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum,
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was na sober;
That ilka melder wi’ the Miller,
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller …

‘To a Mouse’.
Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

Burns Night in Scotland

Playing the fiddle that once belonged to the father of Robert Burns