American Highlander

The many musings of an American Celt

Tonight January 25th is Burns Night…Celebration of poems, drink and haggis

Posted by Reid on January 25, 2008

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Tonight January 25th is Burns Night…Celebration of poems, drink and haggis

Sadly I am not attending a Burn Night Supper this year… but a wee bit of tribute today for this famous Scottish bard. It is a simple (sometimes wild) gathering with some friends, to enjoy the celebration. My personal favorite is when the night turns in to a full fledge cèilidh. (more on that some other time) While I have never feasted on REAL haggis, I was able to feast on some vegetarian haggis, complete with neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes) while I was in Edinburgh a couple of years ago… Fun stuff, I hope some of you are able to enjoy these festivities.

From the http://www.robertburns.org/suppers/

I copied and pasted some excerpts for folks here to get an idea of what this night entails.

The annual celebratory tribute to the life, works and spirit of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). Celebrated on, or about, the Bard’s birthday, January 25th, Burns Suppers range from stentoriously formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars to uproariously informal rave-ups of drunkards and louts. Most Burns Suppers fall in the middle of this range, and adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honoured form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard.

Every Burns Supper has its own special form and flavour, though there are probably more similarities than differences among these gastro-literary affairs. Individual tastes and talents will determine the character of your Burns Supper. Some celebrants may contribute the composition of original songs or poems; some may excel at giving toasts or reciting verse; while others may be captivating storytellers. A particular group of celebrants will, over time, develop a unique group character which will distinguish their Burns Supper celebration from every other.

With a little bit of planning anyone (well, almost anyone) can enjoy a Burns Night celebration. All that’s needed is a place to gather (gracious host), plenty of haggis and neeps to go around (splendid chef), a master of ceremonies (foolhardy chairman), friendly celebrants (you and your drouthy cronies), and good Scotch drink to keep you warm (BYOB). With these ingredients, at least a few celebrants will be able to make prattling fools of themselves, trying to do justice to the words and spirit of Robert Burns. And if everyone brings along a wee dram and a bit of poetry, prose or song then each, in turn, may become an object of mirth and amusement to the gathered throng. Be prepared to enjoy yourself beyond all expectation. It helps if you know your guests and can match them with a suitable reading. Better still, you may be able to gently motivate them, in advance, by including an informal listing of sources along with your charming (I’m sure) Burns Supper invitation.

Hopefully with the good vibes and good whisky, will be all the encouragement anyone will need to lower their inhibitions to a level that Burns, himself, would appreciate.

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Don’t forget the Selkirk Grace before your supper tonight

Some hae meat and canna eat,
and some wad eat that want it,
but we hae meat and we can eat,
and sae the Lord be thankit.

In English: Some have meat and cannot eat,
Some cannot eat that want it;
But we have meat and we can eat,
So let the Lord be thank it.

But be careful, trying to get a “traditional” haggis past US Customs officials

Smugglers dodge sniffer dogs and risk $1,000 fine for a Burns Night haggis

They look no different from any other transatlantic passengers as they walk through into departures or enjoy a final drink at the airport bar. Perhaps they seem a little nervous and maybe their hand luggage looks a bit heavy, but otherwise there is nothing to mark them out as haggis smugglers.

But today, on the 249th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, an unprecedented number of otherwise respectable Scots and Americans will try to circumvent a US ban on British offal products so that they can celebrate Burns Night as it is meant to be: in the company of the “great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race”…. More of this story HERE

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Traditional Macsween Haggis

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