Burn’s Night suppers are atmospheric, cosy gatherings, so getting everyone around a big table, decorated with tartan, thistles and candlelight (and by an open fire if you have one!) is perfect for a celebration at home.
Burns Night, traditionally celebrated on the 25th of January, on the Bard’s birthday, celebrates the life of the world-renowned Scottish poet. On a cold, dark January night, a Burns Supper is the perfect blend of food, drink and merriment and a time when communities come together to celebrate Scottish history and culture.
There are specially organised Burn’s Night Suppers in cities, town and villages across the country (and across the globe!) and everyone should try and attend a proper Burns Supper at least once in their life. If you’d like to mark the occasion less formally at home, perhaps with a small group of friends and family, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
Burn’s Night Setting
The standard order for a traditional Burns Supper includes piping in of the guests, a welcoming speech by the host and then a soup course, before the main event – the haggis – is piped in whilst everyone stands for the ‘Address to a 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 wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my airm…”
The meal continues with other courses and is then followed by toasts and addresses to ‘the lassies’ and ‘the laddies’ before guests or specially invited experts sing or recite popular works of Burns, including ‘Ae Fond Kiss’, ‘A Man’s Man’, ‘Tam o’Shanter’ and ‘To a Mouse’. The evening might end with some ceilidh dancing and a sing-song of ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
You might not have a bagpiper amongst you, but playing some traditional Scottish music throughout your evening is perfect background music. Encourage guests to wear kilts, tartan and tweed.
Burn’s Night Menu
It’s customary to serve three courses at a Burns Supper, with copious amounts of whisky too! Traditional menus include a starter of a Scottish soup such as Scotch Broth, Cullen Skink or Cock-a-Leekie, followed by your haggis as main course, traditionally served with neeps (swedes) and tatties (mashed potato) and sometimes with a whisky sauce on the side – veggie haggis is just as delicious! Deserts are also traditionally Scottish, including dishes like Cranachan, Clootie Dumpling and Scottish cheese selections.
Ask your guests in advance if they’d like to contribute a reading on the night and include a variety of poems. Have fun with it and try your best Scot’s dialect pronunciation! Most people who went to school in Scotland will remember having to learn the lines of Burns poetry for class, from ‘Wee sleekit cowrin tim’rous beastie…’ to ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley…’
Good company, plenty of Scottish food and drink and a few tributes to Scotland’s Bard are at the heart of any good Burns supper. Have fun and slàinte, Rabbie!
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