Burns Night: Haggis, Whisky and Poetry

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Today is one of the stand out celebrations in the Scottish calendar, for today is Burns Night. The annual festival celebrates the life and poetry of Scottish national poet Robert Burns (above), who was born on this very day (January 25th) in 1759. In typically Scottish style, the celebrations are a brilliant mix of solemn traditions and raucous fun.

Traditions and Celebrations

Burns Night is all about celebrating everything that is Scottish, and centres around a supper held in the evening. Many people will dress in traditional Scottish clothes for the evening, which often means donning a tartan kilt. However, the most important aspect of any Burns Night supper, has to be the haggis. Haggis is the most quintessential of all Scottish foods, and if you haven't tried or even seen one before, you may not like the sound of what it is made from. Sheep's heart, liver and lungs are minced with onion, oatmeal, suet (beef fat), and spices and then boiled in a sheep's stomach for 3 hours. Sounds nice eh?

On Burns Night it takes on a special ceremonial importance and its grand entrance is often accompanied by bagpipes. Once placed at the centre of the table the host of the party will then read the ‘Address to the Haggis'- a poem written by Robert Burns to the famous Scottish dish. During the evening there are often numerous toasts to the haggis, as well as to just about anything else, including Burns, Scotland, men, women, the host and so on.

Which brings us on to one of the other essentials of any Burns Night supper- the whisky. Scotch whisky is world famous and Scots are rightly very proud of it. Burns Night provides the perfect excuse to drink copious amounts of it, and by the end you may not be able to stand up but you will be blissfully happy.

Get Involved

There are Burns Night celebrations held all over Britain. Obviously if you are in Scotland you are in for a real treat- with Edinburgh particularly famed for its celebrations. However, many restaurants and pubs will be putting on special Burns Night celebrations tonight, that you should definitely check out. Alternatively, host your own party- don a kilt, read poetry, drink whisky, eat haggis and wish everyone a very happy Burns Night!

To find out more and learn about other British traditions, check out our Festivals and Celebrations section.


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