Burns Night – How and Why We Celebrate It

Burns Night gone posh - fancy Haggis, neeps & tatties by Paul

A Family Makes Burns Night Supper

January 25th 2017 is the 258th anniversary of The Bard’s birth and the 103rd anniversary of my Dad’s birth. Also the 8th anniversary of our wedding reception at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the land of our children’s birth, and my home for approx. 25 years of my life. Yes, our wedding reception was a Burns Night supper, in the Piper’s Hall at Balmoral Castle, on the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robbie Burns. Very special indeed.

Raising a glass to my Dad on Burns Night
Raising a glass to my Dad on Burns Night
Our wedding reception, Burns Night at Balmoral Castle, Scotland
Our wedding reception, Burns Night at Balmoral Castle, Scotland

Just in case anybody was wondering why an Englishman was interested in celebrating Burns Night!

A kiss at the castle, Balmoral, Scotland on Burns Night
A kiss at the castle, Balmoral, Scotland on Burns Night

So, here we are, exiled 100 miles south of the Border, contemplating our meal on Wednesday night. How do you celebrate Burns night when the attendees total 2 adults and 2 primary school kids? The meal itself is simple enough. There’s tatties (mashed), neeps (champit), and of course, that most revered of Scottish delicacies (not including deep fried mars bars…), the Haggis*. Although the kids haven’t quite developed a taste for haggis yet, so we have sausages on standby for them! So that’s bangers and mash then!

*Rough translations – Tatties = potatoes. Neeps = turnips (or swede). Haggis =  a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach[1] though now often in an artificial casing instead. According to the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique: “Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour“.[2]

*Wikipedia also tells us: the dish came to be considered traditionally Scottish, even the national dish,[6] as a result of Scots poet Robert Burns‘ poem Address to a Haggis of 1787.

Burns Night gone posh - fancy Haggis, neeps & tatties by Paul
Burns Night gone posh – fancy Haggis, neeps & tatties by Paul

Traditionally, the rest of the evening for a Burns supper would consist of whisky, poetry recitals, whisky, songs, whisky, toasts, whisky, funny stories and anecdotes, and more whisky. Followed by even more whisky…

Things are slightly more sober in the Family Makes house. Yes, I dress in full Highland Regalia (and refuse to confirm or deny whether I dress as a true Scot would)! These days we also manage to quell the cries from our children of “It’s a skirt! Daddy’s in a skirt!”. And I also ‘Address the Haggis’ and say the Selkirk Grace before the meal.

Cal also insists on a traditional Scottish dessert, as she is the dessert queen! It’s usually a raspberry cranachan (served in her vintage Mailing bowls!)

A traditional Scottish dessert, raspberry cranachan for Burns Night supper
A traditional Scottish dessert, raspberry cranachan, for Burns Night supper

The music is provided by Eddi Reader. She recorded a fantastic live album based on the works of Robbie Burns. Her rendition of ‘My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose’ was the song that greeted Carol as she walked into our wedding ceremony.  And of course we have a dram or two. Well, it would be rude not to, would it not?

“0, my luve is like a red, red rose,
that’s newly sprung in June.
0, my heart is like a melody,
that’s sweetly played in tune.
As fair thou art, my bonnie lass,
so deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
till all the seas gang dry.”

Wherever you are, Happy Burns Night (Nicht), and I’ll leave Robbie with the final word…

“May Freedom, Harmony, and Love, unite you in the grand Design,
Beneath th’ Omniscient Eye above, the glorious Architect Divine,
That you may keep th’ unerring line, still rising by the plummet’s law,
Till Order bright completely shine, shall be my pray’r when far awa.”

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Burns Night - see how and why we celebrate it
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11 Replies to “Burns Night – How and Why We Celebrate It”

  1. Oh I’ve learnt a lot here. And what gorgeous photos. I have actually never tasted haggis, this is something I need to rectify! xx

    1. Well don’t let the description put you off Sharon! It’s actually quite nice!

  2. How wonderful it looks like you know how to celebrate in style ! Happy Burns Night to you all. Thanks for linking up with #TuesdayTreasures
    Angela Webster recently posted…Five Frugal Things For JanuaryMy Profile

    1. Thanks Angela x

  3. This day has so many reasons to celebrate! I hope you had a move my evening. Thanks for joining the #weekendblogshare
    Hannah Spannah recently posted…I’m not Vegan and I’m telling you why | VeganuaryMy Profile

    1. We did thank you Hannah

  4. I really enjoyed reading this and learnt so much! I think I’d prefer the artificial sheep’s stomach though! #weekendblogshare
    Carol Cameleon recently posted…Join in with #HighlightsofHappy on Instagram 26 ~ share your happy!My Profile

    1. I don’t like to think of anything in there, Carol! Thanks for reading x

  5. […] is a throwback one – to memories of our wedding reception at Balmoral Castle. If you saw our Burns Night post this week, you would have seen that we held our wedding reception on the 250th Anniversary of Robert […]

  6. happy belated burns night x
    RachelSwirl recently posted…#MySundayPhoto – Thrilled To BitsMy Profile

    1. Thanks Rachel!

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