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Burns Night checklist – planning the perfect event

Burns night is a yearly event where Scots pay tribute to the cultural legacy of heralded ‘national Bard’ Robert Burns. Known to many as ‘the Ploughman Poet’ Robert Burns was born in 1759 and has penned a number of verses which underpin the proud literary tradition of Scotland.

If you’ve ever rang in the new year with the traditional call of Auld Lang Syne, then you’ve come across his work. While the Homanay anthem is his most famous and widely-repeated writing, having traversed eras and borders to be sung worldwide every year, Burns has left his mark on everything from poetry to love songs. He’s even inspired contemporary artists such as Bob Dylan, who cites ‘A Red, Red Rose’ as bearing the lyrics which have impacted his life and career the most.

So, this is why Scotland celebrate Robert Burns every year. But how do they mark the occasion? And, more importantly, what do you need for the perfect Burns Night supper event? Read on for more information on this iconic Scottish celebration.

When Is Burns Night?

Burns night is held on the 25th of January every year. In 2022, Burns Night falls on a Tuesday. Known as Scotland’s secondary national day, after St Andrew’s Day in November, the event lands on the 25th as the date marks Robert Burns’s birthday.

It’s widely accepted that the first Burns night took place over 200 years ago, way back in 1803, when friends and contemporaries of the 18th century poet gathered to commemorate the 5th anniversary of his death. This years event is on the poet and lyricists 263rd birthday and follows many of the traditions enjoyed during the original gathering.

What Happens On Burns Night?

One of the main celebrations is the traditional Burns supper. Participants enjoy a hearty meal which usually begins with cock-a-leekie soup, subsequently followed by haggis, neeps and tatties (with a wee dram of whisky to wash down). During the celebration, Burns’ repertoire of songs and poems are recited to commemorate the ever-lasting footprint left on Scottish culture and history.

The supper typically begins with a recantation of the Selkirk Grace, prior to the start being service. Once the haggis is piped in, the famous poem Address to a Haggis is performed before a toast. Following the meal, Immortal Memory, a tribute speech, comes next, followed by a Toast to the Lassies, a responding Toast to the Lads, and a number of other Burns recitals alongside plenty of drinking and dancing.

The length of breadth of Scotland comes alive with a variety of events on this date. From ceilidgs where revellers dance long into the night to traditional song, all the way to readings of Burns’s work, there’s plenty to see and enjoy. Of course, COVID-19 curbed the scale of events over the last couple of years. But with restrictions lowered, 2022 Burns Night should be a fantastic celebration of Scottish history.

What To Wear For Burns Night

Many Burns Night celebrations require traditional and formal dress, while others are more relaxed. When going the traditional route, a Scotsman may don a full highland dress of kilt, sporran and other accompaniments.

For ladies on Burns Night, a tartan sash is commonly draped over one shoulder. There is protocol to this, however. Convention states that the sash must be worn over the right shoulder. For the tartan sash, revellers in the know of their ancestry can don their clan tartan based on the history of their surname.

Burns Night Checklist

Planning a Burns Night event? Below is a quick and easy checklist of essentials to ensure your celebration goes off without a hitch;

  • Haggis – the great chieftain o’the pudding race is a staple
  • Cock-a-leekie soup – chicken and leek soup, the perfect starter
  • Neeps and tatties – ideal accompaniments to haggis
  • Dessert – clootie dumpling or cranachan
  • Burns Poetry – accompanied by a reader
  • Whisky – Scotch whisky accompanies the meal and is enjoyed by revellers
  • Tableware – tartan napkins, table runners etc to set the scene
  • Music – as well as piping the haggis, traditional Scottish music is a must
  • Dancing shoes – compulsory

When you’re planning a Burn’s Night event, Speedy Freight can get the supplies you need to you in as little as one hour. Whether you need emergency support or are planning ahead, contact us today to find out more.

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