Happy Robert Burns Night and an Address to a Haggis!

It’s Burns Night tonight. A traditional celebration to celebrate the great Scottish Poet Robert Burns birthday (b. 1759 – 1796).  Best known for his poem Auld Lang Syne, The Burns Supper tradition was first held in his cottage by  his friends in 1801 to mark the 5th anniversary of Burns death. Ayreshire merchants,  many whom had known Burns,  held the Burns Supper on what they thought at the time was Burns birthday (29th January) in 1802.  Upon checking Ayreshire records, they then discovered that the date was actually the 25th January.  Burns night has been celebrated on this date ever since.

No Burns night would be complete  without singing, dancing, Whisky, Haggis and of course, poetry.  One of the traditions is to address the Haggis before cutting into it and plundering its rich delights,  To be polite, one must address it first.

Burns Dinners or Suppers can be formal or informal gatherings.  A piper usually greets the guests, piping them in.  The host will make a welcome speech and then say Grace, usually the Selkirk Grace before the meal.; –

Some hae meat an canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat,

And sae the Lord be thankit”

A traditional Scottish soup is then served (usually Cock-a-leekie, Scotch Broth or Cullen Skink.  The guests will then all stand  as the piper pipes in  the haggis. which is presented on a large dish and laid by the host onto the table. The Host or guest will then recite ‘Address to a Haggis’   At the line ‘His knife seen rustic labour dicht, the knife is sharpened.  ‘An cut you up wi slicht’ is intoned as the knife is plunged into the haggis with gusto.


The haggis is celebrated with a whiskey toast before  the guests sit down to the meal which is  traditionally accompanied by potatoes and turnip (tatties and neeps).  The desert course is usually a Scottish recipe like a Whisky trifle followed by cheese and oatcakes.  All is washed down by fine Scottish whisky.  Lots of toasts, addresses and speeeches  ensue, songs are sung and poetry recited.  At the end of the evening, one of the guests is called upon to give the vote of thanks.  The evening ends with everyone joining hands and singing Auld Lang Syne.   The perfect end to a wonderful evening.

Thanks to;

Address to a Haggis

Scottish Poetry Library

Burns Supper

See my other another of my posts about Burns

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