Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Burns Night

Burn’s Night is the annual celebration of the Scottish poet Robbie Burn’s on his birthday – January 25th.

This is an important date to the Scottish as they are fiercely proud of their national poet and his contributions to Scottish culture. He is to Scotland what Shakespeare is to England and you quote him every New Year’s Eve when you sing "Auld Lang Syne.”

Burns nigh is celebrated with a traditional Scottish dinner of haggis and readings of Burns poetry. The Scottish flag is displayed at the celebration and there is dancing and drinking. The men wear kilts and the wear women scarves with their family’s tartan colors and pattern.

Food traditionally served:

Scotch broth or cock-a-leekie soup (chicken and leek soup);

haggis (there are even vegetarian versions of haggis!)

neeps (mashed turnips)

tatties (mashed potatoes)

cranachan (whipped cream mixed with raspberries and served with sweet oat wafers)

bannocks (a kind of bread cooked on a griddle)

Whisky is the traditional drink.

Traditionally when the haggis is served (with a fanfare of bagpipes) there is a reading of Burn’s poem ‘Address to a Haggis’ which states his ardent admiration for the dish.

I have tried all of the dishes listed above on my various trips to Scotland. I do enjoy all of them, but Scotch Broth is really my favorite. Haggis is interesting and it tastes really good, but it is hard to overcome that sensation of ‘I know I am eating something that should gross me out – but I like it!' It’s like if you have ever had Menudo (not the band – the dish made with the stomach of a cow). It is delicious but you can’t help thinking you are eating an animal’s stomach. A delicious animal’s stomach. After all it is the national dish of Scotland, and you can’t go wrong with the Scots. If you don’t believe me you should read this book.

The lovely folks over at have a fantastic page devoted to Robbie Burns including what to serve for Burns night – traditional and non-traditional, quizzes and even a Robert Burns app!

This is my menu for Burns Night:

Scotch Broth (easy to make and a favorite)

whisky (always on hand and I still have some from my last trip to Scotland)

Walkers shortbread (I can always find it in the grocery store and now I have an excuse to buy some!)

All that plus several readings from my Burns book and a listen to my Corries CD (a Christmas present direct from Scotland!)

*Holds up a wee dram of Scotch* To Rabbie Burns (aye Rabbie)!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,

And pou'd the gowan fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fitt,
Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


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