It’s here! it seems like we have been waiting well, a whole year really, but Burns’ Night is finally upon us! Dust off your Prince Charlie and strap on your brogues, it’s time to head out for a right good Scottish knees up!
It’s all very well for us here at ScotlandShop.com – seasoned supperers that we are but what about you, our enthusiastic readers? How many of you know what to expect from a traditional Burns’ supper? I’m sure that many of you are better informed than I am in these matters but for those of you who aren’t I have compiled a brief run-down of what you can look forward to during the evening.
Piping in the guests
A bagpiper will play as the guests enter the chosen venue for the evening. Traditionally, the piper will keep playing until the top table is ready to be seated, which, if you have a large group could mean that you will be enjoying the charming skirl of the bagpipes for a very long time – we all love the bagpipes, that goes without saying, but if your venue is on the smaller side a very long time can feel like a very long time.
The Chairman’s welcome
A warm welcome and a rundown of the night’s entertainments.
The Selkirk Grace
A short and easily memorised prayer written by Rabbie himself:
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
Here the guests are expected to stand to attention to welcome in the great chieftan of the puddin race – the mighty haggis. Bagpipers will play as the cooks carry in a plattter groaning under the weight of a plump haggis which will then be laid before the host.
Address to the Haggis
An often exuberant recitation of To a Haggis read by one of the more flamboyant guests, ending with the haggis being pierced, presented to the guests and then shared out.
This will typically be a menu of Scottish dishes, haggis will definitely feature in some way either as a starter or the main course. Guests shouldn’t be surprised to find Cock-A-Leekie soup, Venison, Clootie Dumpling (a steamed pudding) or Cranachan (a desert of cream, oats, raspberries honey and whiskey) alongside the mighty pudding.
Readings of Burns’ poems or a performance of one of his songs is customary here, if you are looking for inspiration, we will be releasing a top five burns poems blog shortly to help you get through this. If you don’t know any Burns poems and can’t be bothered to check out the aforementioned blog, you can always entertain your guests in any way you see fit.
The Immortal Memory
This, an always witty look at the life of Robert Burns, focuses on his vices as well as his valour and allows the speaker to educate the guests on some aspect of Burns life. Choose your speaker carefully however, as I have been to many a Burns’ Night where the speaker’s own memory was so poor that a rambling and incoherent speech has been delivered – quick, concise and light really should be the order of the day.
A speech in praise of women in general and specifically those present, the speech usually sits on the borderline of good taste with bawdy humour and innuendo being commonplace allowing the chosen speaker to exercise his funny side. However, the speech should always end on a tender note which highlights the affection men feel for women.
Toast to the Laddies
This speech is a reply to that given to the lassies, it is similarly raunchy and light-hearted.
A vote of thanks
The chairman/organiser/host will give thanks to all those present, especially those who have participated in the entertainments. Again, you don’t really want to go on too long here, by this point in the evening your guests will be so well fed and watered that sitting through rambling thank yous could be considered torture. Unfortunately, most Burns’ Night venues aren’t equipped with that music they play at the Oscars to get actors to stop talking.
The gathered guests will stand together and sing this well known classic, no it’s not just for New Year’s!
That’s basically it, of course there is nothing to say that you can’t deviate from tradition and do whatever you want, it’s your party after all! However you choose to celebrate the Bard this year, make sure you do it in style and with plenty of haggis!
Speaking of haggis, you can watch our fantastic Haggis Hunt Videos here – you definitely should by the way, it’s what Robbie Burns would have wanted!