How to mark Burns Night in style

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How to mark Burns Night in style
How to mark Burns Night in style

A BEAUTIFUL poem or verse transcends the years, reaching beyond countries, religion or race. And few poets are as world-famous for their work as Robert Burns, Scotland´s ´national bard´ whose life and poetry is honoured every year on Burns Night.

Taking place on or near the poet´s birthday on January 25, Burns Night is also named Robert Burns Day or Rabbie Burns Day and sees many around the world hold a dinner in his honour.

The first was held at Burns Cottage by his friends, on 21 July 1801, the fifth anniversary of his death.

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But if you are planning on marking the poet´s life and works this year with your own dinner, what are the traditions to follow?

Burns Night dinner

The Scotsman´s works are traditionally marked with a Burns Night dinner with some of the country´s most famous foods.

The starter is nomally a home-made Scots broth or cock-a-leekie soup, while the main course is a haggis served with mashed turnip and potatoes.


Classic Scottish desserts include a Clootie Dumpling or a cranachan.

Burns Night music

The guests and haggis are traditionally piped in by bagpipers, while many of the Scotsman´s poems are often put to music and sung by guests.

Poetry

Traditional recitals on the evening include the ‘Selkirk Grace’ and the ‘Address to a Haggis’.

Other recitals on the evening include a speech and a toast to Burns, known as the ‘Immortal Memory’, while a male guest then traditionally thanks the women for making the meal with the ‘Address to the Lassies.’ A female guest then offers a reply to the men, ‘The Reply from the Lassies.’

After the toasts, some of the poets most famous works may be read, including a ´Red, Red Rose,´ or ´Tam o´Shanter.´

Burns Night dress

Those holding a Burns Night party may want to wear tartan, whether in a hat, tie, or full Scottish dress.

Robert Burns poems

If you are going to be holding a Burns Night dinner, which are some of the Scotsman´s best poems to read?

Here we have set out some of his best.

Mary Morison

O Mary, at thy window be,

It is the wish’d, the trysted hour;

Those smiles and glances let me see,

That make the miser’s treasure poor:

How blythely wad I bide the stoure,

A weary slave frae sun to sun;

Could I the rich reward secure,

The lovely Mary Morison!

 

Yestreen when to the trembling string

The dance gaed through the lighted ha ‘,

To thee my fancy took its wing,

I sat, but neither heard, nor saw:

Though this was fair, and that was braw,

And yon the toast of a ’the town,

I sigh’d, and said amang them a ’,

‘Ye are na Mary Morison.’

 

O Mary, canst thou wreck his peace from him,

Wha for thy sake wad gladly die!

Or canst thou break that heart of his of him,

Whase only faute is loving thee!

If love for love thou wilt na gie,

At least be pity to me shown;

A thought undgentle canna be

The thought o ‘Mary Morison.

 

The Silver Tassie

Go bring to me a pint or wine,

And fill it in a silver tassie;

That I may drink, before I go,

A service to my bonie lassie:

The boat rocks at the pier or Leith,

Fu loud the wind blaws frae the Ferry,

The ship rides by the Berwick-law,

And I maun leave my bony Mary.

 

The trumpets sound, the banners fly,

The glittering spears are ranked ready,

The shouts or war are heard afar,

The battle closes deep and bloody.

It’s not the roar or or shore,

Wad make me langer wish to tarry;

Nor shouts or war that’s heard afar –

It’s leaving thee, my bony Mary!

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