What day of the year combines haggis, whisky and poetry? Why, it’s “Burns Night,” the January 25th celebration of the poet Robert Burns’ birth. Many mark the occasion by attending a Burns’ Supper, a night that includes a tasty meal, performances of Burns’ work and a speech in honor of the great Scottish Bard. To throw your own Burns’ Supper, here are suggestions for the order of events:
Once everyone has arrived, the host should say a few words of welcome. Then everyone sits and Burns’ Selkirk Grace is said:
Some Folk hae meat that canna eat,
And some can eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
So let the Lord be Thanket!
Following grace, the appetizer is served and the haggis is piped in. In case you’re not familiar with the Scottish dish, haggis is a pudding containing sheep’s heart, lungs and liver, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach.
The host performs the famous Burns Night poem Address to a Haggis, everyone toasts the haggis and the main meal is served, followed by dessert.
After dinner, the first Burns recital is performed, then the main tribute speech to Burns is given, referred to as “The Immortal Memory.” Afterwards, a second Burns recital is performed. And let’s not forget the “Toast to the Lassies,” followed by a “Reply to the Toast to the Lassies,” before the final Burns recital is performed.
At the end of the evening, the host thanks everyone for attending, and then “Auld Lang Syne” is sung, hands joined at the line “And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!.”
And should you wish to memorize a few stanzas of Burns for the big night, you could do worse than Holden Caulfield’s favorite, “Comin Thro’ the Rye.”