Burns’ Night

Tartan image Burns’ Night

25th January is Burns’ Night, an evening dedicated to the life & works of the poet, Robert Burns. It is an annual celebration which takes place on his birthday. Invite friends round for some Scottish fare & a spot of poetry reading.

Robert Burns was born in 1759 in the village of Alloway, near Ayr. His parents were tenant farmers but were able to give him a good education & he developed a love of reading. He spurned the hard physical labour that his family life expected of him & instead turned to poetry & nature & eventually drink & women.

With his affairs starting to get out of hand, he planned to emigrate to Jamaica but with the publication & success of his first book of poems in 1786, he moved to Edinburgh instead. He soon went through the money from his published poetry and got a job as an Excise Officer in Dumfries but continued writing poetry & songs in his spare time. Robert Burns died in 1796 at the age of just 37.

Even if poems aren’t your thing, you’ll probably recognise a few of his writings; A Red, Red Rose, Tom O’Shanter or maybe Auld Lang Syne.


Burns’ Night Menu

smoked salmon with cream cheese on mini pancakes

neeps (swede – mashed)
tatties (potato – mashed)

cranachan with shortbread

selection of Scottish cheeses such as Lanark Blue, Anster, Morangie Brie, Isle of Mull Cheddar . Order online from websites such as The Courtyard Dairy if you have trouble sourcing them.



The haggis is traditionally piped in so unless you know someone who plays the bagpipes, you might want to use a CD. There is a wide choice available. Robert Burns’ Address to a Haggis is then read out before serving. This is  followed by Selkirk Grace:

Selkirk Grace (English)

Some have meat & cannot eat,
Some cannot eat that want it;
But we have meat & we can eat,
So let the Lord be thankit.

Toasts during the evening should include one to Robert Burns himself in an Immortal Memory speech, Address to the Lassies followed by Reply from the Lassies. Choose someone beforehand to give these rather than on the night as they might want time to prepare it!

Burns’ Night Entertainment

Let the meal settle with some poetry readings & then get everyone up for Scottish dancing – you don’t want to waste that CD! Try the Gay Gordons & The Dashing White Sergeant.

Finish the evening with Burns’ Auld Lang Syne – print out the lyrics as most people only know the first couple of lines.

And of course, don’t forget your tartan!


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