Burns Night – January 25, 2011

Robert Burns

[Editor’s note: Julie Goucher of Anglers Rest has provided us with this fascinating guest post – details and description of a popular holiday in Scotland known as Robert Burns Day celebrated in Scotland and by those of Scots heritage each January 25th.]

Across the world, thousands of people with Scottish Heritage celebrate the birth of the Scottish Poet Robbie Burns on 25 January. Traditionally there is a Burns Supper of Haggis, Neep and Tatties to celebrate the event.

The formal supper starts with a welcome and announcements then the Selkirk Grace.

Selkirk is one of the oldest towns in the Borders of Scotland. The Grace itself is a prayer and said before a meal. Here is the prayer in both Scottish and English translation:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Some have food and cannot eat,
And some would eat that lack it,
But we have food and we can eat,
So let God be thanked.

After the Grace everyone stands as the Haggis is carried into the room to the sound of bagpipes. The Haggis is laid at the hosts table and then there is the cutting of the Haggis and the famous poem “Address to a Haggis” is read.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit” hums.

Is there that o’re his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect scunner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whistle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thristle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

At the end of the poem there is a whisky toast to the Haggis. Then the meal is consumed.

The meal itself is Haggis served with mashed potato known as tatties and mashed neep which are turnip if you are in Scotland or Suede if you are south of the border!

When the meal reaches the coffee stage there is a toast to the Monarch . After the meal an “Immortal Memory” takes place. This is usually a speech on the life and poetry works of Robert Burns and the evening concludes with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne* ?

CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie’s a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

Haggis is available in most supermarkets in the UK as either fresh or in some cases in tinned form.  In the US it is available, certainly a few examples of companies that have a US outlets or ship to the US are http://www.scottishhaggis.com/index.aspx or http://www.britishcornershop.co.uk/ or http://www.britishdelights.com/. (Note: I have no financial gain from the companies mentioned.)

* * *

If you have an interesting  heritage holiday, celebration or event that you’d like to share with the readers of GeneaBloggers, contact us about providing a guest post so our readers can learn more.

Photo: Robert Burns, “Bibliothek des allgemeinen und praktischen Wissens. Bd. 5″ (1905), Englische Literaturgeschichte, Seite 55 via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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Comments

3 thoughts on “Burns Night – January 25, 2011

  1. Thanks for the post —Happy Birthday to The Bard!

    “Let kings and courtiers rise and fa’,
    This world has mony turns
    But brightly beams aboon them a’
    The star o’ Rabbie Burns.”

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