Robert Burns was a Scottish bard, born in 1759 who wrote many poems and lyrics during his life. His most famous work is probably Auld Lang Syne, sang at New Year and which translates as ‘times long past’. Burns is one of Scotland’s most important cultural icons as many of his works addressed the political and civil issues of the time.
Robert Burns’ friends and acquaintances held the first Burns supper on July 21, the anniversary of his death, in the late 1700s. This date was later changed to January 25th, which marks his birthday. Burns suppers gradually became a tradition and are now held by people and organizations with Scottish origins worldwide.
At Burns Night events, many men and women wear kilts or other clothes made from their family tartan. At the centre of the supper is the haggis, which brought to the table to the tune of bagpipes. For the uninitiated haggis is a savoury pudding containing ‘sheep’s pluck’ (the heart, liver, and lungs of the animal) which are minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, stock and salt, then encased in the animal’s stomach – though artificial casings are more commonly used now. It can be baked or boiled and although it sounds quite revolting is surprisingly delicious, at least to this author! It’s served with a whisky sauce and some neeps and tatties – a mixture of swede and potato which works beautifully with the rough, oaty haggis. Cranachan is the traditional desert of cream, raspberries and oatmeal. It should all be washed down with a good whisky.
Have a great Burns night. Gun cuireadh do chupa thairis le slainte agus sonas. (Translation: May your cup overflow with health and happiness)
By Tracey Anderson