Celebrating Burns Night
Burns Night is celebrated on 25th January each year, but why?
Robert – or Rabbie – Burns was a Scottish poet, born on 25 January 1759 to a farming family in the town of Alloway, Ayrshire. He wrote his first poem aged 15, and by his mid-20s had gained a reputation for his pioneering views on politics, religion and class-inequalities. He penned many works including Auld Lang Syne, Tam O’Shanter and A Red, Red Rose before his untimely death following a tooth extraction, age 37.
In 1801, on the fifth anniversary of his death, nine men who knew him met for dinner in Burns Cottage in Alloway to celebrate his life and works. The evening centred on a fine haggis; with recitation and singing of Burns’ works and a toast (in verse) to the memory of their friend and hero. They must have really enjoyed themselves as they all agreed to meet again the following January for another birthday dinner for the bard.
With Burns’ popularity growing rapidly, the idea of meeting annually to share his poems and songs in the bonds of friendship soon caught the public imagination – in 1802 some Ayrshire merchants in Greenock followed with the first Burns Club Supper and the West coast towns of Paisley, Irvine, Kilmarnock and Dumfries who each had strong links to Robert soon joined in the new festival – and so began the now global phenomenon which has come to be known as a burns supper,
These days Burns Night celebrations range from grand banquets to a few friends around the kitchen table: but all, with the consumption of haggis, scotch whisky and the recitation of Burns’ poetry, still broadly following the format of that first celebratory night.
Are you planning on celebrating Burns Night this year? Click here for our special Burns Night supper menu