Posted 25th Jan 2016
Held every year on 25th January, Burns Night celebrates the life and poetry of Robert Burns, but where did this proud Scottish tradition begin?
The first supper was originally held by Burns' friends on 21st July 1801, with the first Burns club inspired to form shortly afterwards. The club held their inaugural Burns supper on what was presumed to be his birthday, 29th January 1802, but they subsequently discovered that they had his date of birth wrong – he was in fact born on 25th January 1759. The suppers traditionally had three elements – still true today – which were haggis, which is recognised by Burns in his Address to a Haggis, Scotch whisky and a recital of Burns' poetry.
Tradition has it that Burns Night celebrations would begin with a piper greeting his guests, though nowadays Scottish music is more often played. After a few opening words, the Selkirk Grace is said (thanksgiving before a meal) before guests recite Burns' Address to a Haggis. A Scotch whiskey toast is then proposed to the haggis before everyone sits down to eat it with traditional tatties and neeps (potatoes and parsnips). A light-hearted toast may follow in memory of Burns, before the evening is wrapped up with the host calling on a guest to give their vote of thanks, before everyone joins hands to sing Auld Lang Syne, marking the end of the celebrations.
Once acknowledged as a Scottish tradition, Burns Night celebrations have become increasingly popular across the rest of Britain too, so why not raise a glass to one of our greatest poets this January and enjoy a supper in his honour for yourself?
Image: The Glenlivet