Welcome to your guide for throwing the best Burns Supper this January! Grab a cuppa' get a comfy seat and have a read through some of our 'Must Do's'
The First Burns Supper was originally held on the 21st of July, the day of Burns’ death, by a group of friends wishing to remember his work and life. The Aryshire merchants then founded the Burns Supper Club which began in 1802. A year later after discovering Burns’ actual birth date as January 25th, the celebration moved. Friends and family now gather every year on January 25th to toast the Haggis and enjoy some of Burns’ poetry usually, with a tipple or two.
Now it’s no secret that the traditional Scottish dress is a Tartan Kilt, so expect your guests to be dressed accordingly. Men will usually adorn their families tartan with the women opting for their own Tartan dresses or skirts and in some cases a Tartan Sash to match that of their kilted partner. Interesting enough, as a Lowlander Burns would not have worn a kilt himself. It would have been illegal for him to have worn one as kilts were outlawed in the Dress Act of 1746. This act was abolished in 1782, but even then, kilts didn’t become popular dress until the 19th century!
At a formal Dinner, the guests will be piped into the room or venue by a someone playing the bagpipes. The piper will play until all guests have arrived and the top table (much like at a wedding) has been seated. If you’re planning a less fancy affair a good classic Scots music playlist will do nicely! Once all the guests are seated it is up to the host, or organiser to give everyone a warm Scottish welcome before the first course begins.
The Meal –
Before the first course is served a short prayer is read to usher the meal to the table.
The Selkirk Grace (Read in Scots)
“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.”
The Second course is of course the Haggis. This is piped into the room on a silver platter. It is presented to the top table by a procession of Chef, Piper and the person who will address the Haggis to the guests. As the Haggis enters, it is tradition that the guests stand and clap to the music until it has reached its destination.
The speaker then recites a (hopefully) eloquent and fluent rendition of ‘Ode to a Haggis’ before it is served to the guests. Have a go at reciting it yourself…
A traditional Scottish Burns Supper Menu will consist of the following ;
Traditional cock-a-leekie soup
Haggis, neeps & tatties (Haggis wi' bashit neeps an' champit tatties);
Clootie Dumpling (a pudding prepared in a linen cloth or cloot) or Typsy Laird (a Scottish sherry trifle)
Cheeseboard with bannocks (oatcakes) and tea/coffee.
The rest of the evening is then filled with traditional Dancing, Singing, Poetry and stories, all celebrating the life of Burns and his work! During the course of the evening a toast will be made ‘ To the Lassies’ this will be comprised of Burns quotes but will make reference to the women of today. Paying particular attention to certain guest, makes the speech more personal. The women are then given their chance to ‘Reply to the toast of the lassies’ in which they can seek revenge if need be.
Auld Lang Syne-
The evening ends when all the guests gather on the dance floor, suitably jolly from whisky and food. They join hands through linked arms to sing Auld Lang Syne together. See if you can remember the words,
"Should auld acquaintance be forgot..."