What is Burns Night?
13th January 2016
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Burns Night is celebrated at the end of January every year and is held in honour of Robert Burns who is arguably, Scotland’s most famous poet. Burns Night is a way of celebrating Robert Burns’ life and is held on his birthday…

The celebrations began a few years after Robert’s death in 1796 when his friends began remembering his career on the date of his death (21 July) each year

This became known as the Burns Supper and more than two centuries later Burns Supper has become a nationwide event and is now held on his date of birth (25 January) where recitals of his work happen along with a haggis dinner.

So, what are the traditions in celebrating Burns Night?

It is disputed still whether Robert Burns would have worn a kilt, with some people arguing that as a Lowlander he would not have worn one, although he was a champion of ‘right to wear’ traditional dress.

Burns Night involves poetry readings, whisky and haggis. Those who get involved in celebrating Burns Night are piped in and then a prayer of thanks which is attributed to Burns is said before dinner. This is known as The Selkirk Grace which goes as follows:

“Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat

Sae let the Lord be thankit.”


A Burns supper traditionally starts with a Scottish Broth (soup) before the haggis is served with turnips and potatoes and if you are a true Scot you will know these are known as ‘neeps and tatties’. The haggis is normally served on a silver salver and is welcomed by the diners with a standing slow clap.

 An address to the haggis (Great chieftain o the puddin’-race) which was written by Burns is said by a speaker. This speaker draws a knife and at the line “An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht” cuts the dish open. Once all of this is over then all the diners tuck in.

 Once the meal is over a guest does the Immortal Memory Toast which is a speech in honour of the great poet. Then a toast is made to the Lassies to thank the women for cooking the meal. A male diner offers an amusing but complementary take on the general role a women takes in life, taking quotes from Burns’ work and referring to the women in the group.

 The man who make this toast should tread carefully as it is followed by a women’s reply.

 The rest of the evening is filled by guest performing works by Burn’s and at the end of the night, the Scottish song, Auld lang syne, is sung with the group holding hands!

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James M

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Hi I'm James Mockridge, I work as an admin assistant at thebest of Hastings. I'm an avid Tottenham Hotspur fan.

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