By Kim Traynor

With dictionary look up. Double click on any word for its definition.
This section is in advanced English and is only intended to be a guide, not to be taken too seriously! With dictionary look up.

Robbie Burns Burns' Night - January 25th

Robert Burns (aka Robbie Burns / Rabbie Burns) was born on the 25th January 1759 and died on the 21st July 1796. He is the best known Scottish poet and every year he is commemorated by Scots all over the world with haggis, whisky and a big party.

The centre of every Burns Supper is the steaming haggis, a pudding of sheep organs, oatmeal and savoury spices, which is ceremoniously piped in and then addressed with the reading of the poet's brash Ode To A Haggis.

Not everyone appreciates haggis.

"The Haggis is a dish not more remarkable or more disgusting to the palate, than in appearance. When I first cast my eye on it, I thought it resembled a bullock's paunch, which you often meet in the streets of London in a wheel-barrow; and, on a nearer inspection, I found it really to be the stomach of a sheep, stuffed till it was as full as a football. An incision being made in the side of it, the entrails burst forth, and presented such a display of oatmeal, and sheep's liver, and lights, with a moseta that accompanied them, that I could scarcely help thinking myself in the Grotto del Cane. As I mentioned, my politeness got the better of my delicacy, and I was prevailed on to take it; but I could go no farther: and, after a few encomiums on its being tender and savory, which I thought sufficient to show that I was not wholly destitute of Taste, I turned a hungry face towards a large tureene in the middle, which the master of the feast called Cocky-leaky; and, with the greatest appearance of luxury and glee in his countenance, extracted from a quantity of broth, in which it had been boiled with leeks, a large cock, which I dare say had been the herald of the morn for many a year. This, he exclaimed, would be exquisite, if the cook had taken care that the broth was sufficiently seasoned; and after he had tasted it, he declared that it exceeded his highest expectations. During this time, I found some of the company pay great attention; and, on the verdict being given, seemed rather impatient: but as I was a stranger, and had not blessed my appetite with a considerable degree of Haggis, my plate was filled first, and I began upon it, whilst their eyes were all fixed on me to hear me pronounce the sentence; which I did, indeed, in the words of the verdict, but with some reluctance; for it was so hard and tough, that it seemed to require the stomach of an ostrich to digest it."
-- Edward Topham, Letters From Edinburgh, 1775

However, Burns, who revelled in Scottish tradition, praises the most famous of his country's dishes, named after a mythical Highland beast with two long legs and two short legs to enable it to run around hillsides. The ode begins: "Fair fa your honest sonsie face/ great chieftain of the puddin' race!/ Weel are ye wordy of a grace/ as lang's my arm."

After the dinner of haggis, neeps (mashed turnip) and tatties (creamed potatoes) and a variety of mutton pastries washed down with copious glasses of whisky, there are toasts. The toasts are usually given by someone who knows something about the poet and his work.

To round out the festivities, there is a ceilidh highlighting Scottish music, song, poetry and dancing.

If you want to host your own Burns Supper I can recommend this web site for ideas:-

The Supper