Its November already and Christmas is already looming, so time to start thinking about Burns Night I reckon? Working for a company that sells tartan, I often wish that Robert Burns, for purely selfish reasons, had been born in a different month; here at, having had a few days off work to recover from the Christmas rush, we then hit the ground running to get everyone’s orders out in time for Burns Night. And celebrated it certainly is, traditionally from mid January to mid February depending on what day of the week the 25th January falls. Burns Night is a global event marked in all corners of the world, by folks getting together to eat haggis, recite poetry and drink whisky! And what a social event it is! Ceilidh tartan dancingBurns Night is celebrated on the bard’s birthday 25th January. Robert Burns was born in 1759, the son of a farmer, in Ayrshire in South West Scotland. Burns was well educated and a prolific reader. He was famous by the time he was 27 for his works, but sadly died just ten years later. He had a short but very productive life. He wrote hundreds of songs and poems, the most well known song he is claimed to have written is Auld Lang Syne, which is traditionally sung or rather slurred at midnight on Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve), but it is said although he was the first person to actually write it down, he didn’t actually write it or create it, if you know what I mean. Thank heavens they didn’t have copyright in those days or there would have been legal actions aplenty for the royalties! There is however no doubt that he was a talented man and his poetry is well known. Tam O’Shanter, tells the tale of a man who stayed too long in a pub (some things never change) and then hallucinated on the way home, which demonstrates the downside effects of alcohol and his sense of humour ! To a Mouse, is more reflective and compares the life of a man to that of a mouse. It concludes that the plans of both mice and men often go awry, but the mouse is better off as man worries too much for the future, whereas the mouse lives for the day, what did I say about things never changing? The Selkirk Grace is my personal favourite, written after he stayed with the Earl of Selkirk and is given as a toast before the haggis is eaten.
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
Robert Burns is internationally renowned, Burns poetry reciting competitions are held in schools and there is even a World Federation founded in 1885,which has over 250 member Clubs worldwide, its main objective is to promote the memory of Mr Burns. It publishes The Burns Chronicle and holds events throughout the year to commemorate the poet and his works. haggis neeps and a nip The Burns Supper was started a few years after his death by his friends, who met up on his birthday and held a party dedicated to his memory and this tradition lives on. Robert Burns was quite a character and had plenty of vices but his talent is undeniable, so what better a tribute to the bard than a night of reciting poetry and drinking whisky? The 'Address To The Haggis' is one of the more popular poems written by Burns. Here is the poem in full, along with a translation:
Address To A Haggis Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the puddin-race! Aboon them a' ye tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm: Weel are ye wordy o' a grace As lang's my arm. The groaning trencher there ye fill, Your hurdies like a distant hill, Your pin wad help to mend a mill In time o' need, While thro' your pores the dews distil Like amber bead. His knife see rustic Labour dight, An' cut you up wi' ready sleight, Trenching your gushing entrails bright, Like ony ditch; And then, O what a glorious sight, Warm-reekin, rich! Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive: Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive, Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve, Are bent lyke drums; Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive, "Bethankit!" 'hums. Is there that owre his French ragout Or olio that wad staw a sow, Or fricassee wad mak her spew Wi' perfect sconner, Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view On sic a dinner? Poor devil! see him ower his trash, As feckless as a wither'd rash, His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash, His nieve a nit; Thro' bloody flood or field to dash, O how unfit! But mark the Rustic, haggis fed, The trembling earth resounds his tread. Clap in his walie nieve a blade, He'll mak it whissle; An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned, Like taps o' thrissle. Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care, And dish them out their bill o' fare, Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware That jaups in luggies; But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer, Gie her a haggis! The Translation Fair is your honest happy face Great chieftain of the pudding race Above them all you take your place Stomach, tripe or guts Well are you worthy of a grace As long as my arm The groaning platter there you fill Your buttocks like a distant hill Your skewer would help to repair a mill In time of need While through your pores the juices emerge Like amber beads His knife having seen hard labour wipes And cuts you up with great skill Digging into your gushing insides bright Like any ditch And then oh what a glorious sight Warm steaming, rich Then spoon for spoon They stretch and strive Devil take the last man, on they drive Until all their well swollen bellies Are bent like drums Then, the old gent most likely to rift (burp) Be thanked, mumbles Is there that over his French Ragout Or olio that would sicken a pig Or fricassee would make her vomit With perfect disgust Looks down with a sneering scornful opinion On such a dinner Poor devil, see him over his trash As week as a withered rush (reed) His spindle-shank a good whiplash His clenched fist.the size of a nut. Through a bloody flood and battle field to dash Oh how unfit But take note of the strong haggis fed Scot The trembling earth resounds his tread Clasped in his large fist a blade He'll make it whistle And legs and arms and heads he will cut off Like the tops of thistles You powers who make mankind your care And dish them out their meals Old Scotland wants no watery food That splashes in dishes But if you wish her grateful prayer Give her a haggis!

Credit - World Burns Club

This is part one of the Burns Night series of blogs and if you are having a panic about what to wear or how to cook your haggis don't worry that is coming up shortly. Meantime Ladies you can order your Tartan Sashes here and Gents your Bow Tie and Cummerbund sets here.