Now if ever there was event that sounds like candles should be involved it’s got to be Burns Night! Named after the eighteenth century Scottish poet and writer Robert Burns, bad puns aside, Burns Nights are enjoyed all across the globe on or around the 25th of January every year. They follow a pattern of a traditional meal haggis, neeps and tatties (turnip and potatoes!), followed by songs, stories and speeches and maybe a drink or two, and they are a great way of bringing some much needed laughter and enjoyment to the long, dark, cold month of January.
Every year we hear great new stories of Burns Suppers. Some people simply refuse to even try haggis, others find some of Burns work difficult to read or follow, while others simply use it as an excuse for having a nice meal with friends. I attend a Burns Night at a friend’s house annually. They invite about 20 people over and each year someone different has to memorise and recite the poem ‘Address To A Haggis’, the room falls silent for it and at the end, no matter how many stumbles or errors they made they always get a huge cheer from the guests. After that we have something to eat and then take part in a general knowledge quiz that gets quite competitive at times. Traditional it is not, but it is a lot of fun and we hope the spirit of Burns is present in the stories and laughter.
The recital is always done in candlelight. It really adds to the mood, somehow it makes it more intimate, and as the poem was written by candlelight it feels appropriate. The perfect candle to use is of course the ‘Red Red Rose Burns Chalice’, a lovely 3 wick chalice candle with the popular Burns poem etched in gold on the side. Some of my friends insist on it, not just because it looks great but because the delicate scent of rose helps mask the smell of the haggis which isn’t to everyone’s taste!
Whether you are attending a traditional Burns Supper or something a little less formal, getting the atmosphere just right is essential. So make sure you’ve got good food, just enough to drink (or maybe slightly more than that…), good company, good stories and a poem or song in your heart if not your lungs. Oh, and don’t forget to light a candle, it is Burns Night after all.