Burns Night – the tradition and history

burns night

Happy Burns Night!  Ready for a night of food, poetry and music but unsure where to start?  Here’s everything you need to know about the tradition.

Also known as Burns Supper, Burns Night is a Scottish holiday celebrated on January 25th.

A celebration of the life of Scottish poet and lyricists Robert Burns (born in Ayrshire in 1759), the night sees various traditions honoured.  Family and friends come together for a meal, drinks and an evening of Burns’ poetry.

burns night

A portrait of Robert Burns, the Scottish Poet

The celebrations can be traced back to a supper held by friends of Robert Burns on July 21st, 1801 on the fifth anniversary of his death.  The Burns Club was founded that year and suppers arranged for January 19th, which was then believed to be his birthday.  Since then, records have been discovered that show his birthday is actually the 25th. We have celebrated his life annually on this date ever since.

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Burns Supper is a meal made up Cullen Skink, a traditional Scottish soup, followed by haggis with neeps (turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes).  During the supper ‘Selkirk Grace’ is recited, as well as the ‘Address to a Haggis’ when the haggis is brought out.  Desserts often include oatmeal shortbread, whiskey caramels and marinated raspberries.

Don’t forget the whiskey!

After eating, a speaker will make a toast to the “Immortal Memory of Robert Burns”, giving a speech before choosing a Burns song or poem to perform.

burns night

Cullen Skink – a Scottish soup made with haddock, potato and onions

Male speakers can also recite humorous speeches “Address to the Lassies” and females reply with “Reply to the Laddies” for a bit of light-hearted fun after a filling meal.

The end of the night is rounded up by a recital of Burns’ most famous work, ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

Gather round with friends and family for a fun filled night and toast to one of Scotland’s most beloved historical figures.

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About Emma Arthurs

As Head of Digital for the Clyde Outside, Emma is hoping to put her love of all things Internet - whether it's blogging, coding or gaming - to good use. Definitely put the gaming to good use. Her work as Head of Digital and Deputy Editor for the Clyde Insider in her first year helped garner their commendation at the SSJA Awards 2018.

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