Tomorrow night, Scots all over the world will gather together. To sing, to dance, to make merry and have a good time. One of Scotland's greatest national holidays, Burn's Night, isn't just celebrated in just this country but all over the world by people of Scottish descent. After some searching, I've found many a sold out Burn's supper from America to Australia. Just goes to show, everyone loves the Scots!
The Man Himself
Despite the renown of the day, some may not be quite as familiar with Robert Burns himself. Just who is he? Put simply, he's a genius wordsmith. Described by many as not just the best poet in Scotland but potentially, the world. He encompsses the humour and sincerity of the Scot in his poetry such as in Tam o' Shanter with lyrics like;
O Tam! had'st thou but been sae wise,
As ta'en thy ain wife Kate's advice!
She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum,
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum
His Scots tongue carried through all of his works and becoming legendary around the world.
The traditional Burn's Supper begins with the arrival of the guests, who are piped into the main gathering hall, followed by an address by the Chair, welcoming all in attendance. Next, a prayer. The Selkirk Grace;
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
The guests stand to attention when the main guest arrives. The haggis! It's piped through the room on a silver platter preceeded by the chef and the speaker. The Burns Poem "To A Haggis" is spoken, the guests toast it and thus begins the feast.
The typical Burn's Supper is made up of a traditional Scottish meal, with a starter of cock-a-leekie soup followed by haggis, neeps and tatties and finished with clootie dumpling. A tried and true Scottish feast! From here on the entertainment can vary but there will always be performances of Burns songs and poems. After this, the speaker gives a speech on the life and times of Rabbie Burns with a toast to his immortal memory.
The night concludes with more entertainment, a toast to the lassies and toast to the men and finally the guests sing Auld Lang Syne. A good time is had by all and the night ends. Burns night is important not just as an event but as a true dedication to the man and Scottish culture as a whole. It's all about national pride and the sense that even after more than 300 years after his death we still gather in this ceremony to toast, to the 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 worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.
Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis