Held throughout the world on Burns Night on the 25th January (or an evening close to it), a traditional Burns Supper is an evening that celebrates the birthday, life and work of Scotland's National Poet, Robert Burns, one of our most famous and celebrated Scots. It combines haggis, whisky and poetry with lots of fun and laughter.
The first Burns supper was held in July 1801 when nine of Burns’ close friends got together to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend’s death. Taking place at Burns Cottage in Alloway, the night included a tasty meal (haggis, of course!), performances of Burns’ work and a speech in honour of the great Bard (now known as the Immortal Memory). The night was such a resounding success they decided to hold it again (this time in honour of Rabbie’s birthday), beginning the tradition we still enjoy to this day.
Everyone enjoys a hearty Burns Night meal (which includes haggis, neeps and tatties, rounded off with drams of whisky), some of Burns’ poems and songs are recited with tributes made to the great Bard.
Each Burns supper is individual, but the running order normally goes something like this:
- To start – everyone gathers, the host says a few words, everyone sits and the Selkirk Grace is said.
- The meal – the starter is served, the haggis is piped in, the host performs the famous Burns Night haggis poem Address to a Haggis, everyone toasts the haggis and the main meal is served, followed by dessert.
- After the meal – the first Burns recital is performed after Burns Night food, the Immortal Memory (the main tribute speech to Burns) is given, the second Burns recital is performed, then there’s a Toast to the Lassies, followed by a Reply to the Toast to the Lassies, before the final Burns recital is performed.
- To end the night – the host gives a vote of thanks, everyone stands and sings Auld Lang Syne, crossing their arms and joining hands at the line ‘And there's a hand, my trusty fere!’.