The 25th January is fast approaching which, for the Scottish, can only mean one thing…Burns’ Night! Put your fire extinguishers away, nothing gets burnt (except if I’m cooking!) As Infinity’s resident Scot, let me take you on a Highland fling through history. Bring your bagpipes, your kilt and your sense of the ridiculous!
For those new to celebrating this Scottish tradition, fear not! I’ll help you with some simple ways to create an authentic Burns’ supper. First let’s learn five facts about the man we celebrate – Mr Robert Burns, aka Rabbie Burns.
- Rabbie was born on the 25th January 1759 in Ayrshire, Scotland. He was eldest of seven children born to poor farmers. His childhood was marked with hardship and intense manual labour.
- Without regular schooling, he gained most of his education from his father. He began writing poetry to try and woo some lassies. (It must have worked as he went on to father at least ten children!)
- He wrote in Scots dialect which tends to need a bit of translation for those not used to it. Think along the lines of Scottish Shakespeare and you’d be heading in the right direction!
- Rabbie continued farm work throughout his life and his poetry only began to gain an audience when he borrowed a pony and went to Edinburgh! There he was taken seriously and was commissioned to write songs, poems and appear at events.
- He passed away from a rheumatic heart condition after a trip to the dentist, aged 37. In his short life he wrote hundreds of poems and became known as the bard of Scotland, thus we celebrate his birthday!
Another thing we know about Rabbie is that he loved his Haggis! If he was around now, he’d definitely be posting pictures of his food on Instagram! He wrote an ‘Address to Haggis’ which, translated, begins:
“Fair and full is your honest, jolly face,
Great Cheiftain of the sausage race!”
Do you see why us Scots love this guy?!
As it’s Rabbie Burns’ 258th birthday, why not join in and have a Burns’ super of your own! There is no need to go all out authentic! Let’s be honest, traditional Haggis contains some pretty grizzly ingredients, so opt for Macsween’s Vegetarian Haggis… It’s delicious! Very simple to prepare, (boil or microwave) serve with some mashed tatties (potatoes) and mashed neeps (turnips).
It’s not only the food that makes this a special occasion. A traditional Burns’ supper in Scotland is a real community event. All the family, neighbours and friends come together for a good laugh and a ceilidh (Scottish dancing). The evening begins with a bagpiper marching in as the Haggis is brought forward on a platter. Yes, it gets as grand an entrance as the Queen would! Of course everyone is sporting their kilts and the banquet table is set. Once the Haggis has been ceremoniously placed on the table, the ‘Address to Haggis’ by Burns is recited. Then the eating commences, followed by speeches, replies, and the evening is finished off with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne (also penned by our Rabbie!)
So why not try your own? Find some bagpipe music on YouTube, make a fuss of bringing in the haggis platter (thank it for its honest, jolly face) and finish your meal with Auld Lang Syne. Tartan, whisky and Irn Bru are optional!