Scottish highland mountains landscape

Celebrate Burns Night 

Yes, we know you have barely had time to pack away the Christmas and New Year decorations, let alone eat all the food, but there is of course another celebration on the horizon, Burns Night.

Here we offer a quick guide to this most Scottish of events.

What is Burns Night?

Taking place on the 25th of January, Burns Night is the celebration of the life and work of Scots poet Robert Burns famous throughout the world for his poems and lyrics including Auld Lang Syne.

A traditional supper is held to mark the bard’s birthday which was 25 January 1759. These take place globally particularly in Australia, Canada, USA and of course here in the UK.

The first occurred in July 1801 when some of his closest friends came together at Burns Cottage in Alloway to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his death.

What food is served?

Traditional Scottish food is eaten at a Burns Supper, this can include cock-a-leekie soup or Scotch Broth; haggis, neeps, and tatties; cranachan, and a cheeseboard. With of course plenty of whisky!

What happens on the night?

Most Burns Night celebrations whether informal or formal will include toasts along with readings of Robert Burns works. 

The evening begins with the Selkirk Grace, a short prayer:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be Thankit!

The focal point of the evening is then the entrance of the haggis on a large plate to the sound of the bagpipes. Upon arrival, the host will read the “Address to a Haggis” and following this the haggis is ceremonially sliced and the meal begins.

After the meal, the Immortal Memory which is the main tribute speech to Burns is given, this is then followed by a Toast to the Lassies, followed by a Reply to the Toast to the Lassies before a final Burns recital is performed.

The end of the night is marked by a vote of thanks and everyone coming together to sing Auld Lang Syne.

Find out more from the Robert Burns World Federation.

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