But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer, Gie her a haggis!
Burns Night is a celebration of Robert Burns (Rabbie Burns, 1759 – 1796), Scotland’s most famous poet, and is celebrated on the anniversary of his birth (January 25th ). Robert Burns may be Scottish, but celebrations are held throughout the world and traditionally take place around a highly ceremonial Burns Night Supper. Below is a rough guide so you can have a go at home. To 'The Haggis'!
How to do a Burns Night Supper...
Piping in the guests
You must welcome your guests, if possible with a bag-piper, if not some well timed music in the background should suffice. The host should stand as guests enter, and traditionally all guests should then stand also until the piper finishes, when a round of applause is due. The chair (host) warmly welcomes and introduces each guest, and then reads 'The Selkirk Grace':
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
Piping in the haggis
This is the best bit! Guests are expected to stand and welcome the most important guest of all – the haggis! The haggis should be delivered on a silver platter, followed by a procession of the chef, the piper (again, an MP3 player should do) and the lucky person who will address the haggis. There should also be a whisky-bearer to ensure the toasts are well lubricated. As the haggis goes by guests can clap in time with the music until the haggis reaches the table.
Address to the haggis
The person honoured with the task performs a reading of 'Address to a Haggis' by Robert Burns. On cue, in the third verse down when the reader reaches the line: His knife see rustic Labour dight, they must cut the casing along the length of the haggis making sure to spill some of the contents (Trenching your gushing entrails bright!). To hear how it goes, listen below:
At the end of the poem the reader raises the haggis and is greeted with a much deserved applause.
Toast to the haggis
The audience now joins in a toast to the haggis, where everyone shouts 'The Haggis', or 'slàinte mhath' (cheers and good health in Gaelic).
Food and drink
To start, some cock-a-leekie soup, followed by the classic main of haggis, neeps & tatties, and finished with a clootie dumpling or (if you've had enough round, heavy food) a typsy laird. All is washed down with liberal lashings of wine or ale with dinner, and fine Scottish malt whisky after the meal. It's also customary to douse the haggis with a wee dram.
After the meal, Burns songs such as 'My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose', and 'Rantin', Rovin' Robin', can be sung, or more guests can have the chance to try their hand at reciting some Burns poetry. The chair should also give a toast in Robert Burns' memory.
Toast to the Lassies
This is a light-hearted opportunity for a bit of banter between the lads and lasses. The Toast to the Lassies is designed to praise the role of women in the world today and should be done by a selected spokesperson for the lads, using a few selective quotations from Burns' works. It should be a little bit cheeky, but not offensive. The toast concludes with To the Lassies!
Reply to the Toast to the Lassies
Revenge for the women! The lassies get their chance to reply, again done by a selected spokesperson using a few selective quotations from Burns' works. And it can be just as cheeky. Below is a bonnie reply:
Guests rise to sing Auld Lang Syne – the classic poem written by Burns in 1788, before going on their merry way.
Have a fantastic Burns Night.