A statue of Robert Burns by John Steell

Your Guide to Burns Night in Scotland

Key Facts

Date: 25th January every year

Why: to celebrate the life of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet

How: With a Burns Night supper, Scottish music and Scottish poetry

About Burns Night

Burns Night, celebrated every year on January 25th, commemorates the life and works of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns.

Central to Burns Night festivities is the Burns Supper, which includes the national dish of Scotland, haggis neeps and tatties, as well as renditions of Robert Burns’ most famous works including Auld Lang Syne (which you might know as it’s traditionally sung on New Years Eve in Scotland and, sometimes, in the rest of the UK), and the Address to Haggis, one of his most famous poems.

Read more about Burns Night in Zsófi’s section below! 

What Zsófi Says About Burns Night

If you ever find yourself in Scotland on 25 January, you are in for a treat! People flood the streets to wonder at the colourful fireworks filling up the Scottish skies, before retreating into their homes to eat the most traditional foods of Scotland and equally traditionally, get drunk.

Originally, Burns Night started as an intimate celebration to commemorate the birthday of the most renowned national poet, Robert Burns. Now, this posthumous birthday party has developed into a national day where all in Scotland prepare what is referred to as a Burns Supper, drink inhumane amounts of Scotch, and recite Burns’s poems by heart – so some good ol’ literature-based fun!

Focussing in on the food, as is important in life and even more so in articles about food, while innovations are highly encouraged, there is a traditional procession of a Burns Supper many like to keep to even if just for the hell of it. Firstly, once all the guests arrive and all the cooking and preparations are finished, you officially open your evening with a prayer in Scots called the Selkirk Grace.

This is followed by a recital of Burns’s perhaps most famous poem, the Address to Haggis, which is a mandatory prerequisite to serving the dinner with plates full of haggis and neeps and tatties (do not worry, I will provide translations for this soon). Of course, you can’t finish a Burns’ Supper without washing it off with some whisky and once all the booze has put you in a singing mood, with the musical rendition of Auld Lang Syne. If you are lucky and surrounded by quick-footed kilted-up Scottish men, you might even have the opportunity to try out a ceilidh dance (pronounced: kay-lee), a traditional Scottish group dance often performed at weddings, gatherings, and Burns Night.

Now, this is a very brief overview of what is usually a multiple-hour occasion; however, I believe there are a few words that deserve further explanation. So, let me walk you through the food and drink component of the Burns’ Supper…

Read Zsófi’s full article “A Beginners Guide to Scottish Food” here!

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