January is the month when Scotland celebrates one of the most iconic Scottish poets in the world, Robert Burns. While celebrations take place throughout January, Burns Night officially falls on January 25th.
Robert Burns, otherwise known as Rabbie Burns is famous all across the globe, but if you haven’t heard of the Scottish icon and why or how we celebrate him, here’s a brief summary.
Who was Robert Burns?
Born on January 25th 1759 in a small cottage in Alloway, Ayrshire, Robert Burns rose to fame as a result of his traditional Scottish ballads, romantic songs and intriguing poems. Auld Lang Syne should definitely ring a bell, you know, the most popular New Year’s Eve song and Burns’ best-known work. Sadly, Burns lived a short life, passing away at the age of 37 on July 21st 1796. But his legacy lives on.
We celebrate the life and work of Robert Burns every year on January 25th, also known as Burns Night. The night includes a Burns supper (haggis, neeps and tatties), drams of whisky, singing Burns’ songs and reading poems, of course. Very Scottish!
The first ever Burns Night dates all the way back to July 1801 when nine of Robert Burns’ close friends gathered at his cottage in Alloway to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his death. Following the success of that night, it’s remained a tradition ever since.
While we can enjoy a Burns supper from the comfort of our own homes, many pubs and restaurants all across Scotland host formal Burns Nights and events throughout January.
Burns Night isn’t only observed in Scotland – it’s a worldwide celebration. There are several societies across the globe known as Burns Clubs, devoted to the life and work of Robert Burns. In New York, there’s the Caledonian Society which hosts one of the classiest black-tie Burns Suppers, and in Hong Kong there’s the Burns Supper of the St Andrew’s society, founded in 1881 by Scottish expats.
Haggis Neeps and Tatties Recipe
Want to host your own Burns Night celebrations? Here’s a recipe for your Burns Supper.
500g haggis (you can use vegetarian haggis if you like)
400g turnips or swedes
100g unsalted butter
8 spring onions
30ml double cream
- Peel and quarter the potatoes and turnips or swedes.
- Place the haggis in a large pan of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.
- Cook the turnips or swedes and the potatoes in separate pans of boiling salted water for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender. Drain the veg separately.
- Return the turnips or swedes to the pan, add half the butter and mash, keeping chunky. Season to taste. Cover to keep warm.
- Trim and roughly chop the spring onions. Melt the remaining butter in the potato pan, add the spring onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until softened. Add the potatoes and mash until quite smooth, seasoning to taste. Cover to keep warm.
- Remove the cooked haggis, cut open and place a portion onto each warmed plate. Divide up the turnips or swedes and potatoes (neeps & tatties) and serve.
Robert Burns is remembered like no other poet in the world.
Our ‘In the Footsteps of Robert Burns’ package allows you to explore Ayrshire, the area of his younger years and Dumfries, where he eventually lived and then Edinburgh, the city that first feted him as a literary sensation.
If you’d like to celebrate Burns Night in the legend’s birthplace, contact us today.