On 25 January, Scots all over the world will gather to remember one of Scotland’s finest characters. Poet and lyricist Robert Burns was born in Alloway, Ayrshire on this day in 1759.
During his colourful life, ‘Rabbie’ penned some of Scotland’s most famous pieces of poetry as well as a host of beautiful songs. He has often been hailed as a literary hero of Scotland and rightly so.
The well-established tradition of remembering our own National Bard on his birthday usually takes the form of a social gathering to eat and drink.
Burns Suppers are held up and down the country, year in, year out. People gather in friendship and celebration of the man himself. Typically, haggis takes centre stage as the showpiece of any Burns Supper and is followed by ceremonial toasts and general merriment.
If you're feeling patriotic and nostalgic why not invite the family round for a bit of ancient tradition. You could host your own wee Burns Night soiree with your nearest and dearest. With some COVID restrictions on numbers still in place it might need to be a more intimate affair, but it will still be a hoot and something to look forward to on a dark winter’s night.
Treat the family to a traditional Burns supper of haggis, neeps and tatties – the most suitable dish for the occasion but I suppose you can make whatever you like. Haggis curry, anyone?
As well as haggis, you could serve up a feast of tasty Scottish scran such as Cullen Skink or Cock- a Leekie soup. For dessert, dish up some Clootie dumpling or Cranachan - perhaps all washed down with a nip of some fine Scottish malt whisky. I’m more of a grape than grain girl so I’ll stick to the Sauvignon!
To add some musical entertainment to the night, you could ask a friend to recite one of Burns’ many brilliant poems. Or, if there’s a decent chanter in your family, ask them to sing one of his beautiful songs such as The Rowan Tree or Ae Fond Kiss. If there are no willing soloists, you can always have a group sing-along to Auld Lang Syne. It doesn’t need to be Hogmanay to belt that one out. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have know someone that can play the bagpipes, you’re onto a winner. Have them pipe in the haggis which is sure to add a real sense of occasion to your night but best tell your neighbours! Failing that you’ll just have to curate your own Spotify playlist.
If you can't be bothered with all that or if you're keeping yourself to yourself, you could get involved with some of the virtual Burns Night celebrations that are happening. The Nest Collective are hosting online ceilidhs this month on 25, 28 and 29 January.
They’ll be broadcasting on their Youtube channel (remember to subscribe) and you can join in the fun for free. There you go – you can have a wee jig around the living room and work off your haggis dinner.
Another cracker of an event coming up if you don’t fancy leaving the house is Eddi Reader’s Big Burns Supper. This unique online show will be hosted by Eddi herself and features a great line-up of music and comedy talent. The free event will be live on Facebook and YouTube from 7pm on Tuesday, 25 January, 2022. For more information head over to www.bigburnssupper.com
Many of us already know Burns’ story or have been taught about it back in school but if you fancy getting to know more about the life and works of Robert Burns, a trip to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayrshire should be on your agenda.
Visitors can discover just about everything there is to know about the man and the museum houses over 5,000 artefacts including some of his handwritten manuscripts. A must for any serious Burns enthusiast but it’s also just a lovely day out.
As well as the the museum, you can also visit Burns’ Cottage, Alloway Kirk, and the Burns Monument and Gardens. Or, drop by the famous Brig ‘o Doon and imagine Tam O’Shanter’s experience as he raced across the cobblestoned bridge on his horse, Meg, fleeing from the witches and warlocks he thought he had seen through his drunken haze.
Legend has it that our Rabbie liked a wee dram or two himself and I doubt he would have observed ‘dry January’.
“Some hae meat and cannae it
And some wad eat that want it
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thankit”