Story and photos by Manos Angelakis

Burns Night Pipping

Burns Night

Every year Scotland and people of Scottish descent honor their national poet, Ayrshire’s great son Robert Burns (1759-1796) on his birthday January 25, with a Burns Night either on the day or the first Saturday following it. The showpiece of any Burns Supper menu is the iconic haggis; required activities are the wearing of tartan and numerous toasts of whisky from the distilleries of the Scottish highlands and lowlands!

I love a Laphroaig or Lagavulin, but actually any good single malt will do. And in this event Arran showed off many expressions; all very warming in a cold January evening! 

Traditional prescribed recitals on this evening include the “Selkirk Grace” and the full “Address to a Haggis”. Both penned by Burns.

Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat an’ canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be Thankit!

First stanza of 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 of a grace
As lang ‘s my arm.

Other recitals include a speech commemorating Burns and a toast known as the “Address to the Lassies”. The toast is a playful way for the gents attending the celebration to poke fun at the women in attendance. And then that is followed by the “Address to the Ladies” recited by the lassies present in response to the men’s speech. Both, tongue-in-cheek of course!

They are all followed by the Tam o' Shanter. This quintessential Robert Burns narrative poem is a must for any Burns Night celebration.

Finally, Auld Lang Syne is sung. This poem is the traditional end to any Burns Night. It's undoubtedly Burns' best known work. It's a great way to cap off an evening.

The dinner started with Cullen skink, a classic Scottish smoked fish soup with leeks and potato.

Burns Night The Haggis

But the haggis is the true centerpiece of the proceedings!

A piper in a kilt announces the arrival of the haggis and plays traditional Scottish tunes during the evening on his bagpipes. He accompanies the chef or a “steward” that will march-in the haggis on a silver platter to the table. Then the master of ceremonies will recite the Selkirk Grace and following, the Address to a Haggis. The first toast takes place with a “wee dram” and it is to the haggis... when everyone raises their glass and shouts “To the haggis!” The proceedings continue with serving the haggis and neebs and taties and, of course, numerous toasts of additional drams.

This past January I was invited to a Burns Night dinner. Thankfully, I have participated in Burns Nights in the past, so I knew what is required and what to expect.

Since I’m not Scottish or of Scottish descent, I don’t have a clan tartan. But, a number of years ago while I was working in London, I had gotten a tie at Harrods in a Royal Stewart, so I wore that to be in concert with the rest of the attendees. I think that the tie is enough… I’m afraid that I’d feel completely ridiculous in a kilt; though a lifetime ago a love of mine had a kilt made for me. But, at that time, I did not have knobby knees!

Anyway, personal sartorial reservations notwithstanding, I had a great time!

A haggis might not be be a very desirable dish for those that did not grow up eating it, but to a Greek it is no less desirable than a platter of kokoretsi or kishka for those that grew up with Mittel-European Jewish cookery! While the food may not be appealing to those of different ethnic backgrounds to me all these dishes are, in reality, delicious.

Of course, the drams crown the event.

“Do dheagh shlainte” meaning “to your good health.”   




© March 2023 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.


LW-sub_dropshad 2

In this issue: