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“Few hearts like his, with virtue warmed, few heads with knowledge so informed; If there’s another world, he lives in bliss; If there is none, he made the best of this.” – Epitaph On A Friend, Robert Burns
In Scotland, there is one individual whose name is practically synonymous with the word poetry. The life and legacy of Robert Burns however, is not only celebrated in his home country but worldwide.
A great source of inspiration to founders of both liberalism and socialism, his poems and songs are so beloved that the bard’s birthday – 25th January – is now famed as Burns Night.
A tradition known as a Burns Supper marks the celebration. Guests dine on a hearty Scottish meal of haggis, neeps and tatties, while Scotch whiskey flows. Traditional Scottish dances named Ceilidhs (pronounced kay-lees) are performed, and renditions of Burns’ poetry are acted out into the night.
The city of Edinburgh boasts a number of Burns Night celebrations for merrymakers to enjoy, from organised Burns Night meals and suppers, complete with entertainment, to family shows, and many more. Here’s a list of what 2017’s upcoming Burns Night has in store:
How to create your own Burns Night celebration?
The festivities begin with guests being welcomed to the table by traditional bagpipe music. Hiring a Piper for the night will add authenticity.
The Toast Master & speakers
A Toastmaster introduces the celebration by formally welcoming guests and announcing each stage of the evening. Speakers will also have been chosen to recite Burns’ poetry, and for full-effect, you might want to consider choosing readers who can speak the Scots language. The Selkirk Grace, the prayer of thanks, is said before the food is served.
As the haggis is brought to the table, ‘Address To A Haggis’ is recited and on the line “An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht”, the dish is cut. A toast of whiskey is then raised to “The Haggis!” before supper is served.
Supper is traditionally started with a serving of cock-a-leekie soup, followed by haggis, neeps and tatties for the main, and Cranachan for dessert. Beer, wine and of course, whisky is served alongside the food.
After supper, evening follows into night with a series of speeches, and Burns’ songs and poetry are recited.
Full of passion and wit, Burns’ work is equally profound, romantic and humorous. Amongst his most well-known songs and poems, and which are likely to be heard performed on Burns Night, include;
- To A Mouse
- Address To A Haggis
- The Immortal Memory
- Auld Lang Syne
- A Red, Red Rose
- A Man’s A Man For A’ That
The host thanks their guests and everyone who was involved in the event, and the night comes to a peaceful close with everyone joining hands to sing the last song of the evening, ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
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