Host Your Own Burns Night

image
Print Friendly

On Sunday 25 January 2015, people around the world will gather together to celebrate the life and works of Robert Burns on Burns Night with food, drink and entertainment.

This famous Scottish tradition has a long history and rich traditions, and it’s easy to plan your own Burns Night and make your own authentic Burns supper.

The Bard of Ayrshire

On 25 January 1759, in a village near Ayr in Scotland, Robert Burns was born. Although his parents were tenant farmers they made sure their son was well educated, and the boy turned out to be not only a keen reader but a skilled writer.

Over the years Burns became known as a Romantic poet, publishing celebrated works such as ‘Tam O’Shanter’, ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ and the world famous ‘Auld Lang Syne’. His life was defined not only by his poetry but by his love affairs, financial troubles, radical political views and hard physical labour. He died aged just 37, on 21 July 1796, and has since become Scotland’s most famous son and an inspiration to people around the world.

The first Burns supper was held a few years after his death by his friends, and since 1802 groups of people have come together to remember Robert Burns on his birthday.

Celebrating Burns Night

It’s easier than you might think to plan the evening’s entertainment and prepare a traditional Burns supper on 25 January 2015.

Most Burns Night celebrations follow a format that dates right back to the very first commemorations.

  • – The evening starts with the Piping In of the Guests, in which guests mingle and drink while traditional Scottish music or pipe music plays
  • – Next the host welcomes everyone as they take their place at the table
  • – The host recites the Selkirk Grace, and the starter is eaten
  • – Guests should stand while the chef brings in the haggis, to the sound of more pipe music, and clapping from the guests
  • – The famous poem ‘Address to a Haggis’ is read by the host, and the haggis cut open. Everyone toasts to ‘the haggis!’ then tucks in to the main meal
  • – After the main course you could have a guest perform a Burns song, or recite a poem like Tam o’ Shanter or Holy Willie’s Prayer
  • – Next comes ‘the immortal memory’ in which someone speaks about Robert Burns, and concludes by asking everyone to raise a glass ‘To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns’
  • – You could follow this with another poem or song
  • – A male guest then makes a fun, complimentary ‘Toast to the Lassies’ about the women present, which makes reference to Burns quotes
  • – In return, a female guest should ‘Reply to the Laddies’ with a humorous toast of her own
  • – The host should thank their guests and then lead them in a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, with everyone linking hands and singing together

Give different guests different poems or speeches to prepare in advance, and make sure everyone who wants to takes part so that nobody feels nervous or left out.

The Burns Supper

Just as with the format of the entertainments for the evening, there is an established menu to serve at a Supper.

  • – Start your meal with a cock-a-leekie soup, or potato and leek soup if you have vegetarian guests
  • – The star of the meal should always be a haggis for an authentic Burns Night Supper. If you’re not a fan of haggis or have guests who don’t eat meat then try a vegetarian version. Either way, you should make a small cut in the haggis skin before it’s brought to the table to let some of the hot steam out
  • – Serve the haggis with neeps and tatties – mashed turnip or swede and mashed potatoes – and a whisky sauce.
  • – Your dessert could be a traditional Clootie Dumpling or a sherry trifle
  • – Finish the meal with a cheeseboard, oatcakes, and a round of tea or coffee

You can serve the food with wine or beer, and make sure there’s good Scotch whisky on hand for the toasts.

What’s your favourite Burns poem?

The following two tabs change content below.

Silversurfers Features Editor

Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Features Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

Latest posts by Silversurfers Features Editor (see all)

Not a member?

Join the silversurfers community today! It's free, easy to do, and is packed full of features and amazing offers!

Join the community!
Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!

More Culture

Get ready for Stir-up Sunday Christmas pudding
Love it or hate it, it’s unlikely you’ll make it through the festive season without a run-in...
Remembrance Sunday: how to get involved Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red (Detail - landscape)
Each year on the second Sunday in November we pay tribute to the soldiers who fought and gave...
Celebrate Bonfire Night Bonfire Night Fireworks
“Remember, remember the fifth of November…” Of course, you’re probably familiar with...
Teach Yourself Languages Online Italy
Salut! Hallo! Ciao! Hola! It’s never too late to start learning a new language. Whether...
Victoria Wood: Best Moments VicWood
Beloved comedian Victoria Wood has died aged 62 after a short battle with cancer. The...
Podcasts: the new radio listening to podcasts
Lots of people have started to listen to podcasts, the radio-style shows you can enjoy as and when...
5 great UK Christmas markets worth a visit Winter Wonderland
Now that the calendars have changed, the festive period is well and truly here, and Christmas...
Desert Island Discs: the best interviews Aerial View Of Caribbean Desert Island
It’s hard to believe that Desert Island Discs has been on BBC Radio for over 60 years – even...
What’s your next language? Silver Surfers (2)
Learning a new language can be a daunting prospect. Searching for the right course, dedicating...
New museum and gallery exhibitions this autumn LONDON - AUGUST 1: Visitors viewing exhibits in the atrium of th
Autumn is a great time to visit your local museums or gallery – as the warm summer sun leaves us...
Plan your visit to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival EdinburghFringeFest
Each August Edinburgh is transformed for the annual Fringe Festival – the month-long event is...
Exciting museum & gallery exhibitions in London V&A Museum
Treat your soul to some of the excellent artworks and national treasures on offer in the Big Smoke...