As the Christmas and New Year festivities have passed, January is the time for another celebration, Burns Night. Traditionally acknowledged in Scotland, but now worldwide, the evening which celebrates the anniversary of Robbie (or Rabbie) Burns’ birth on 25th January takes place each year.
Who was Robert Burns?
Robert Burns, born in 1759, is the national bard of Scotland. His poems are widely celebrated and have been a great source of inspiration for modern-day poets and lyricists alike. Throughout his life, women were one of his greatest passions and sources of inspiration. By the age of fifteen he had penned his first love poems and later was regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement.
A Red, Red Rose, 1794
‘My love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June:
My love is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.’
Burns Night supper
What started a few years after the death of Robert Burns, the Burns Night supper, celebrated on or around the 25th January, has gone on to be a long-standing tradition in tribute to the memory of the late genius.
The first supper took place in 1801 and in the 200+ years since then, new traditions have been added but the sentiment remains the same. Scottish music, the piping in the haggis, recitals, whisky and of course tartan have all become synonymous with the celebration.
Address to the Haggis
‘Fair fa’ your honest sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’the pudding-race!’
Good company, hearty Scottish food, a few drams of whisky and some fitting tributes to Scotland’s bard are at the soul of any good Burns Night celebration and it wouldn’t be complete without the star of the show, the haggis! At traditional Burns suppers, the haggis is piped into the room carried on a silver platter, before a knife is dramatically plunged into it and the final lines of the poem are spoken ‘Gie her a Haggis!’
Auld Lang Syne
The evening is brought to a close with perhaps Burns’ most famous song, traditionally belted out at New Year celebrations, where everyone joins hands in a large circle and sings the words together.
‘Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!’
The song is a recollection of happy days gone by and it has the recurring theme of reunion something many of us are hopeful for within the coming year.
For auld lang syne, my jo
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.’