If you’re hosting or toasting to our national bard on Burns Night this year, we’ve created this handy wee guide to the celebration and its traditions with some suggestions for an alternative Burns Supper. Spoiler alert: it involves a haggis pie.
Burns Night is celebrated annually on the 25th of January in tribute to our 18th century celebrity poet, Robert Burns, who was born on this date in 1759, in the village of Alloway in South Ayrshire.
Just when the dreich days and darks nights really start to creep up on you, this cultural event pops up in the calendar, providing the perfect excuse for a Scottish-style gathering or some good old family fun: guaranteed to beat the January blues. For that, we can raise a toast tae Rabbie!
Robert Burns’ Famous Poems
Burns and his incredible way with words has left a permanent imprint in Scottish culture, but his legacy extends far beyond our lands. His ultimate claim to fame, ‘Auld Lang Syne’, is sung all around the world, usually by merry souls to ring in the bells of a New Year, and it has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the top three most popular songs in the English language.
The lyrics of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ are a sentimental, nostalgic ode to friendship, which translate as “old long ago”, or what we would now say as “the good old days”. The song has been translated and adapted into many languages and cultures, such as ‘Hotaru no Hikari’, which is sung to the same tune as ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at school graduations in Japan.
Burns wrote many songs as well as poems, and some of his other best known works include ‘To a Mouse’, ‘Ae Fond Kiss’, ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ and ‘A Red, Red Rose’.
Burns Supper Ideas
If you’ve decided to host a Burns Night for friends, or will be enjoying a low-key celebration as a couple or family, sorting out the Supper should be top of your list. True to tradition, a Burns Supper is a classic meal of haggis, neeps and tatties. Who are we to mess with that? We’re sticking with tradition; we’re also sticking it in a pie. Here are our suggestions for an alternative Burns Supper:
- Haggis, neeps and tatties pie – Highland haggis combined with peppered neeps and mashed tattie, generously packed in and wrapped in golden pastry. Burns himself would be impressed! Let us cook it and deliver it, ready to be heated on the night. Order our Veggie Haggis pie here or our Haggis pie here and be sure to recite ‘Address to a Haggis’ before tucking into your pies!
- Black pudding mash – use fluffy potatoes (Maris Pipers are great), boil for 25–30 minutes, add some warm milk and butter, and get stuck in with a good tattie-masher. While the potatoes are cooking, fry off some slices of black pudding then use kitchen roll to soak up excess oil. Stir the black pudding through it all at the end.
- Whisky cream sauce – we’ve gone all-out Scottish with the pie and mash, so why stop there?We're sharing our Pie Makers Whisky Sauce recipe, to accompany your feast of haggis, neeps and tatties.
- Cranachan cheesecake – another twist on a classic. Take all of the components of this much-loved dessert to form a delicious cheesecake. Check out this recipe.
- Irn Bru cocktails – some might say this is a step too far, but that’s why we like it. Cos-bru-politan, anyone? Check out these Irn Bru and Scottish Gin cocktails.
Burns Night Entertainment Ideas
- Host a quiz – test your guests on their Burns trivia with The Big Burns Night Quiz and give out novelty prizes; a hairy haggis key ring or a ‘See You Jimmy’ Hat, perhaps?
- Have a mini ceilidh – search for live events online to follow with your guests or master the moves in advance and get the tunes on. Strip the Willow is lots of fun if you have a large group of people and a big enough space indoors or out in the garden.
- Whisky tasting – if your pals are partial to a dram, or need a wee introduction, choose a whisky from each region, guide then through a tasting and get them to rate each dram. You could even do a whisky and chocolate pairing – see this event for inspiration.
- Recite Burns Poems – challenge your guests to read a selection of famous poems out loud; you could even time them and give out points/prizes for the quickest to finish.