Are the howling winter winds and relentless snow flurries making you gloomy? Do the words, ‘For to see her was to love her, love but her and forever,’ send tingles up your spine? Have you always been mystified by haggis? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions then Burns Night is definitely for you. Wherever you are in the world, gather some friends together, pop on something tartan and join us as we celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns.
A fun and, often raucous, evening held on or around the 25th of January, Burns Night celebrates the life and work of Scotland’s national Bard (poet) Robert Burns. With a fabulous talent for words, a keen eye for the ladies and a fondness for a drink or two, a typical Burns Night celebration is a real testament to Rabbie himself and rarely a sedate affair.
Celebrations begin with some traditional Scottish food, and after a hearty bowl of Cullin Skink (deliciously creamy, smoked fish soup) the haggis is piped in and then washed down with neeps and tatties (mashed turnip and potato) and lashings of whisky. This is followed by entertainment in the form of poetry readings – Burns of course, a toast to the lassies, a good old sing song about friendship and then perhaps some traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing (Disclaimer, too much whisky combined with ceilidh dancing can result in injury and great confusion.)
If you’re finding it tricky to source a piper, don’t fancy haggis, or haven’t the space for a Highland fling, then fear not, there’s lots of easy ways to honour the occasion in all of its quirky Scottish glory.
1. Swap the haggis for vegetarian haggis. We love proper meaty haggis, just so long as we don’t stop to ponder exactly what‘s in it. If eating sheep’s liver, kidney and lungs isn’t your idea of a good time, then switch to the vegetarian version and you’ll still enjoy the delicious oaty texture and peppery after taste, which makes this dish so warming and yummy.
2. Skip the booze. Burn’s birthday falls on a Sunday this year so if work beckons the next day then it might be a good idea to leave out the alcohol. While a peaty Talisker whisky, distilled on the Isle of Skye, is a great way to toast the Bard, so is a Crabbies alcohol free ginger beer, or an Irn Bru – just as Scottish, minus the Monday morning headache.
3. Pretend that you’re in a secluded Scottish cottage. If your celebration is for two then we suggest that you draw the curtain and batten down the hatches, as for one night only, you’re stranded in a wind battered glen, with no power, just the light of your Highland Collection Shearer Candles, some delicious food, beautiful poetry and your loved one to keep you warm.
4. Shake off those inhibitions. The best Burns suppers are the ones where everyone takes a turn at a poetry reading or a song, so be sure to have lots of Burns material to hand (it’s readily available online) so that everyone can chose what they are comfortable with. Even better, you could decide who would be best suited for what and prepare them in advance.
5. Be a great friend. Whatever do, don’t forget to end the night, arm in arm singing Auld Lang Syne, which is all about remembering and celebrating long standing friendships. If you’re attending a Burns supper, why not bring your host a traditional Quaich cup of friendship, like this one, with a wonderful Shearer twist or opt for a more economic choice – The Gathering scented tin candle.
6. Have a really good party. Whatever shape, your celebrations take, Burns Night is all about getting together, having a drink, some hearty food and a good time. So cut loose, say a few words and maybe misbehave a little. It’s what he would have wanted.