by David MacDonald, Founder of David’s Larder

David MacDonald, Founder of David's LarderBeing born and raised in Scotland, Burns Night (25 January) is my favourite celebration of the year. Despite now living on the other side of the world since 2010, I always keep up the annual tradition of marking our national poet Robert Burns’ birthday. For me, the night is about bringing friends and family together and proudly showing my three chilren their heritage.

Whether you are hosting an informal celebration or intimate dinner, there are many traditions that you can incorporate in your evening.

 

Here’s my guide to the most popular ones:

Scottish-Themed Music

Having a live bagpipe entertainer is likely to be near-enough impossible (and even noisy for your neighbours). You can still, however, set the mood by playing traditional Scottish music or putting a modern twist on things with Visit Scotland’s Spotify playlist, featuring some of  the country’s best known artists and bands.

 

Welcoming Guests

The host, known as the Chair, welcomes guests and introduces the evening’s proceedings. This is then followed by reciting a short prayer, known as The Selkirk Grace:

Some have meat and cannot eat,

Some cannot eat that want it;

But we have meat, and we can eat,

Sae let the Lord be thankit

A starter, which is optional, is then brought to the table. Our favourites include Cullen Skink or Lentil and Ham Hock Soup.

 

Addressing the Haggis

Scotland’s national dish ‘haggis’ is the centrepiece of any Burns Night celebration. Haggis is made from sheep’s heart, liver, vegetables and spices. Despite its description, haggis is delicious and popular not just amongst Scots but internationally. It is traditionally served with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes). We have taken the hassle out of preparing your own by creating a Burns Supper Box, available to order online.

At the Burns Supper the poem ‘Address to a Haggis’ is recited whilst the Chair plunges the knife into the haggis.

‘Address to a Haggis’

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 airm.

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!

 

This can be translated to:

Good luck to you and your honest, plump face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.

The groaning trencher there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour wipe,
And cut you up with ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm steaming, rich!

Other recitals include commemorating Burns with ‘Immortal Memory’, as well as ‘Address to the Lassies’ and ‘Reply from the Lassies’, which are typically created for the evening.

 

Whisky Tasting

No Burns Night would be complete without a dram (or two) of whisky. Make sure you follow our Facebook page. We will be announcing a competition very soon— your chance to win a bottle of Aberlour (12-Year Old Double Cask Matured Single Mask Scotch), worth over $100.

 

Closing Ceremony

Finally, at the end of the night guests join hands and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne!

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 take a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,

And pou’d the gowan fine;

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fitt,

Sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,

Frae morning sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

Sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!

And gie’s a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,

For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

 

No matter where you are from and how you celebrate Burns Night, we hope you enjoy the evening.