“O Scotia! My dear, my native soil! For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent.” – Robert Burns
We Scots love our traditions. In fact we are famous for it. That ingrained national pride is often the envy of the world, or so WE like to think. Whether we’re strutting around in kilts, busking with our bagpipes, or singing a well-known Scots tune at every opportunity we get – we are proud of our heritage. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that with Burns Night fast approaching this weekend, us Scots will be throwing ourselves into it with all the gusto only a Scotsman (or woman) can muster.
Burns Night is just one of many Scottish traditions, and one of the most prominent in the cultural calendar. It is a celebration of the life and poetry of Scots bard Robert or ‘Robbie/Rabbie’ Burns. It is a tradition that has been upheld by the nation since the 18thcentury, and usually takes place on Robert Burns’ birthday – January 25th.
So how exactly do you celebrate Burns night? As a long-established Scottish company that values tradition, we have compiled the four main points of Burns night and written a short guide to each. Follow these steps, and you’ll be celebrating the evening like a true Scot this weekend!
What to Wear
Tartan is of course essential. If your family name has a clan tartan that’s definitely a plus, otherwise there are thousands of generic tartans to choose from. The Burns clan tartan is also a popular choice. Once you’ve decided on your tartan, how to wear it is up to you.
Ladies, you can give your chosen tartan a ‘wee’ nod by opting for tartan accessories such as a brooch, scarf, hat, bag or shoes – or if you really want to go all out, donning a full tartan dress and traditional sash will certainly do the trick.
Men will usually opt for the national Scottish dress of a kilt and ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ jacket. Full tartan suits and waistcoats are also a good choice. A more subtle approach, however, could be a tartan tie, tartan cufflinks or tartan scarf.
What to drink
Robert Burns was not only famous for his poetry but also for having a penchant for whisky. This well-known taste of his makes the drink a central part in a Burns celebration. A good Scotch whisky is not hard to find. Scotch (Scottish) whisky is Scotland’s biggest export. House names such as Glenfiddich and Bowmore will always prove popular, but have a look at a recent article by news site, Business Insider, on the best Scotch Whiskies in the world for more ideas.
If you’re not a fan of whisky, a bottle of red wine is a good alternative. A non – alcoholic suggestion would be the Scottish national soft drink Irn-Bru.
What to Eat
One of Burns’ most famous pieces of work is his Address to a Haggis, and it is this poem that dinner is centered around. The haggis is presented to the table, or ‘piped in’ by a fanfare of bagpipes, the table will recite the Burns’ poem and then cut the haggis on cue with, “his knife see rustic-labour dight”. Alternatively, you can recite only the first two lines of the poem, “fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, great chieftain o the pudding-race!”
As a proud producer of traditional Scottish meat, Speyside Specialities works hard to deliver fresh, quality and authentic haggis. We are honoured to count the ‘chieftain o the pudding-race’ in our diverse selection of products.
The haggis is served with ‘neaps’ (turnip or swede for those non-scots) and ‘tatties’ (potatoes – usually mashed). A starter of ‘cock-a-leekie’ (chicken and leek) soup and a dessert of ‘clootie dumpling’ (rich fruit pudding) or ‘tipsy laird’ (whisky and usually raspberry trifle) are also an option.
As a notorious ladies man, the ‘address to the Lassies’ is a Burns tradition where the men make a toast to the women in their life. The women will then respond with their own toast in the ‘address to the Laddies’. A recital of your favourite Burns poem is the perfect way to end the evening, with most choosing the world famous Burns song ‘Auld Lang Syne’, which is also regularly sung on Hogmanay or New Years Eve.