The Culinary and Poetic Legacy of Robert Burns in Scotland

The Legacy of Robert Burns in Scotland

Robert Burns is a cult figure amongst Scottish people for his celebrated poetry and folk songs from the 18th Century. He used to write in the Scots language and also English with Scots dialect. Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns has travelled far beyond Scotland, to become a universal song for New Year’s Eve.

The Legacy of Robert Burns in Scotland

Every 25th of January in honour of Burns’ birthday, Scotland celebrates its favourite son with a night of festivities including traditional Scottish food, dancing, drinks, and rousing verse from the great man, like the famous poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’. There are loads of venues across Scotland putting on a lavish celebration on Burns Night, here are some of the best ones. We hope that you’re encouraged to dust off that kilt. Alternately, if you’re not Scottish then get along to this unique cultural event that happens in other big English cities.

A Formal Burns Night: What to Expect

If you go to a formal Burns Night celebration, then you can expect some fun and interesting traditional elements. Delicious food and drink kick the festivities into full swing. The crowning glory is the haggis. This is piped into a sack and the Master of Ceremonies gives a stirring recital of ‘To a Haggis’ by Burns. He finishes off with a dramatic gesture by raising the platter above his head and shouting ”Gie her a Haggis!” A Ceilidh band (pronounced kay-lee) or pipers are normally present to get everybody in a patriotic mood. Expect to complete the evening by holding hands with those at your table and singing the famous song about parting ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

The Legacy of Robert Burns in Scotland

What People Eat On Burns Night

If you go to a Ceilidh on Burns Night then expect a variation on the following three course feast. Although depending on the venue, there may be some unconventional surprises in the mix.

In the past I’ve gone out and enjoyed a traditional feast in Edinburgh. Although many places all over the world with a sizeable Scottish population will do a feast on Burns Night. Typically the feast starts with a Cock a Leekie soup. Followed by a terrine of roast chicken and leeks with a prune and Armagnac puree and pickled onions. The Haggis course featured a smoked flat iron steak with haggis, neeps and tatties in a delectable whisky sauce. This is followed by the Cranachan course, a crowdie and whisky soaked raisin cheesecake, organic oat crumble and rhubarb whisky sauce. Along with this expect a few drams of whisky.

The Legacy of Robert Burns in Scotland
Cock a leekie soup
The Legacy of Robert Burns in Scotland

What does Haggis taste like?

Absolutely amazing actually. I had it before I begun my pescatarian odyssey. Nowadays it comes in a sausage casing, so not inside of a sheep’s bladder like in days of yore. It is tasty though.

The Legacy of Robert Burns in Scotland
A Haggis
The Legacy of Robert Burns in Scotland
Haggis – obviously after being butchered and cooked

Just to clarify, a Haggis is an elusive creature that lives in the highlands. It tastes really good. Any questions?

Whether you are a Scot or you simply wish you were in Scotland, the 25th of January is a good day to celebrate all things Scottish on Burns Night. 

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

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