Friday 25 January 2013

Weekend Cooking - Burns Night (Part One)

Rabbie Burns 1759 - 1796
Across the world, thousands of people with Scottish Heritage celebrate the birth of the Scottish Poet Rabbie Burns on 25 January. Traditionally there is a Burns Supper of Haggis, Neep and Tatties to celebrate the event.

The formal supper starts with a welcome and announcements then the Selkirk Grace.

Selkirk is one of the oldest towns in the Borders of Scotland. The Grace itself is a prayer and said before a meal. Here is the prayer in both Scottish and English translation:

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.
Some have food and cannot eat,
And some would eat that lack it,
But we have food and we can eat,
So let God be thanked.

After the Grace everyone stands as the Haggis is carried into the room to the sound of bagpipes. The Haggis is laid at the hosts table and then there is the cutting of the Haggis and the famous poem "Address to a Haggis" is read.

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 dicht,
An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit" hums.

Is there that o're his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect scunner,
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 wallie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whistle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thristle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

At the end of the poem there is a whisky toast to the Haggis. Then the meal is consumed.

The meal itself is Haggis served with mashed potato known as tatties and mashed neep which are turnip if you are in Scotland or Suede if you are south of the border!

When the meal reaches the coffee stage there is a toast to the Monarch . After the meal an "Immortal Memory" takes place. This is usually a speech on the life and poetry works of Robert Burns and the evening concludes with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne* ?
For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.
Haggis is available in most supermarkets in the UK as either fresh or in some cases in tinned form. In the US it is available, certainly a few examples of companies that have a US outlets or ship to the US are or or
I have no financial gain from the companies mentioned.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by BethFishReads


  1. Anonymous12:39 pm

    Absolutely fascinating Julie. Although I have some Scottish Ancestry, I actually know very little about traditions such as this.
    However, there was a tradition here in Australia many years back when on New Years Eve partygoers would form a circle and sing the first verse of "Auld Lang Syne"... don't know if it's still done. Thanks :-) ... Catherine

  2. I love this post. I have a little Scots blood -- thus my love of whiskey :). I have heard of Burns Night but had no idea what was involved. Thanks so much for sharing this tradition.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it Beth. My husband is not Scottish, but grew up in Scotland and is fonder of the Scottish roots than his North East ones. So we usually have a Burns Supper at the end of Jan for dear old Rabbie Burns.

      There is a hotel near us which does do the whole Burns Supper, the poetry, meal, pipes and whiskey and we really wanted to go, but hubby is poorly at the moment, so its on the list for next year.

      We had best stay over as Hubby would get double whiskey as I am not a drinker!

  3. How fun! I love things like this, poetry or stories that you can cook to!

  4. Lovely to see more about the tradition - but I can't hack haggis! It's the smell I think....

    Have a good week

  5. Love learning! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I've seen this on the news several times, but not seen the poem written out. Thanks for sharing this story. Very nice to finally get the whole picture. Still haven't tried haggis, but i'm sure at some point i will.

  7. Thanks for sharing this lovely tradition -- I'd pass on the haggis though :). Pass the neep and tatties.

  8. I spent a year in Scotland back in the late 90's and had a great time at Burns' Supper. I remember having to do a toast to all the lads, while my boyfriend did one to all the lassies. Good times! :) (and P.S. I love haggis!)

  9. What a fun tradition. I'd heard of Burns Night but didn't know all of these lovely details.

    Joy's Book Blog

  10. Anonymous4:46 am

    How lovely that you posted some poetry. I did not cook Scottish on the day but played my Jean Redpath cd of Robert Burns poems set to music. Love him.


Hello! Thanks for stopping by and choosing to leave a message. I read every message and I usually reply via the comment thread. Posts are currently moderated due to the sudden influx of spam postings!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...