Robbie Burns Supper – things I have learned

 Several years ago, my husband and I had the privilege of going to Scotland. It was culturally impressive and I learned a lot. I’m an Irish girl married to a Native American, so, it was an experience. But a friend spoke of enjoying a Robbie  Burns Supper recently, and I thought, maybe you are where I was not too long ago, wondering what it was and what they had at one. So here is what I was told but remember, I’ve not been to one so if you have better information, please, share with us!

What is at a Robbie Burns Dinner/Supper?

The first supper was held as a type of memorial at the Burn’s cottage by Burns’s friends, on 21 July 1801 five years after his death so it is a dinner with a lang heritage.

Here is an excellent site to answer all your questions, 

http://robertburns.org/suppers/itinerary.shtml

This site is full of stories, poems, recipes and everything you need to carry on your own celebration… and you end every dinner with the famous Auld lang Syne—written by auld Robbie himself!!

…but I’ll give you the outline that is fairly often followed whether it be formal or casual.

IntroductionItinerarySourcesRecipes


B

urns Supper Itinerary

from Burns Night: My Supper With Rabbie

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some would eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Celtic design

Gather
The celebrants gather and mingle, catch up on gossip, pore through their Burns editions, and peruse the whisky selection. The chairman or host may make some introductions among the guests, assign some readings, or deliver a few opening remarks.

Meal – Welcome Grace
The celebrants are called to the table, the host offers an opening grace – traditionally The Selkirk Grace – and the soup course is served.

Parade of the Haggis
The evening’s highest bit of pomp. The chef, carrying in the haggis, follows the piper – playing Brose & Butter,or some other appropriate tune – in a more or less dignified procession through the hall (or house, or one bedroom flat). The chef lays the haggis, on it’s groaning trencher, before the chairman at the high table.

Address to a Haggis
A previously designated reciter reads this poem over the haggis. A guid whisky gill is offered to the piper, chef and reciter, and with alacrity, the haggis is sliced open with the finely honed edge of a ceremonial dirk (though any old knife will do).THE (BAGLESS) HAGGIS

———-

1/2 lb. beef liver
2 lamb kidneys
3/4 lb. lamb shoulder
1/4 lb beef suet
2 onions, minced
1 c. oatmeal
1 c. stock
salt and pepper

Boil the meats for an hour. Cool. Grate the liver. Chop the others fine. Chop the suet. Toast the oatmeal in a shallow pan in the oven, shaking occasionally. Mix the meats, suet, onions and oatmeal together with a cup of the stock in which liver and meats were cooked. Add salt and plenty of pepper to taste.

Turn into greased Pyrex bowl. Cover with 2 or 3 layers of foil. Steam on a rack in a pan of boiling water for 2 hours, adding more boiling water as it boils away.

Serves 6.



The meal is then served with all its composite courses and copious helpings of guid ale and whisky. (I’ve seen some flavor their haggis with a dram of whisky, but I prefer both my pudden and whisky neat).


Interval
After the meal there is a brief interval while the table is cleared or the celebrants retire to another room for the rest of the evening’s festivities. The chairman needs to keep the guests focused and facilitate the flow of the songs, toasts and poetry that are to follow. Time to refill your glasses!

Song
A good warm-up for the Immortal Memory, a musically inclined guest, or two, may sing a Burns song.

Immortal Memory
The chairman, or designated speaker, delivers the Immortal Memory address. This should be a rather serious and careful consideration of the life and art of Robert Burns. It may be a general, biographical sort of speech, or may address a specific aspect of the Bard’s work that is relevant to the particular group of assembled celebrants. This speech should be long-winded enough to remind the guests that this isn’t the office Christmas party, yet not so long as to induce cramping, dry-mouth, or ringing in the ears (about 25 minutes). This speech always ends with standing guests, raised glasses and an offered toast to the immortal memory of the Bard of Ayr.

Songs, Music & Readings
Now, in loose order, deftly orchestrated by the chairman, follow the other poems, toasts, songs and addresses of the evening. Celebrants who have arrived with selections to read take their turn entertaining the others. (It always helps if the chairman has some readings selected for guests who have arrived unprepared or who may need a little encouragement.)

The readings at our Burns Supper are not confined to the writings Burns exclusively. Anything that honors the immortal memory and spirit of the Bard is welcome. These include stories and anecdotes pertaining to Burns and his time, poems and songs by other Scottish poets, and original works composed by the celebrants for the occasion.

Lost Manuscript Fragment
A unique ritual at our Burns Night celebration, this delicate Burns artifact is carefully passed among the celebrants and read by each.

Toast To The Lassies
A traditional Burns Night ritual, this toast should be a light-hearted lampoon of the lassies’ (few) shortcomings. Illustrations from Burns, or from first hand knowledge of the subject, may be used. Warning: Please be tactful! It’s funny, but I’ve noticed that even the mildest, vaguest, allusions to the faults of women, in even the most general sort of way, may be misconstrued as a viscious personal attack!

Reply From The Lassies
Always delivered with grace, charm and wit, this savaging of the lads’ crude dispositions and social inferiority is always accepted with good humor by the menfolk present.

Tam o’ Shanter
No Burns Night is complete without a recitation of the great narrative poem.

Songs & Poems
The chairman may play it by ear and keep the readings going as long as the guests are willing and attentive. Alternatively, the evening may evolve into a bacchanal of music, song and dancing. Either are acceptable.

Closing Remarks From The Chairman
When an end to the festivities has finally arrived the chairman should thank the guests for their attendance, good cheer and high spirits. A few reciprocal remarks, or a toast, may be made by one of the celebrants and a vote of thanks offered to the host, chairman, chef, piper, etc.

Auld Lang Syne
The traditional end to any Burns Night – indeed, an appropriate end to any evening spent among the company of friends – is the singing of this sentimental Scottish song. It always helps to have the correct lyrics printed out for the, by now, groggily satisfied celebrants.


Robbie Burns Day: 10 facts you never knew

Alliston Herald

SIMCOE COUNTY – Each year celebrations are held to mark the birthday of Scottish bard Robbie Burns, who was born in 1759.

He wrote his first song when he was 15 years old and died at age 37. Though he lived a short life, it was definitely not boring and he is celebrated every year.

Here are 10 facts you may not have known Robert Burns Day or the writer himself.

10. How it came to be

Robert Burns Day was not an annual celebration until several years after his death when a group of his friends gathered to honour his memory. It caught on and is now celebrated around the world on the date of his birth, Jan. 25.

9. Haggis

No Robert Burns Day dinner is complete without haggis – or, “the great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race,” as Burns called it.

Haggis is a large, spherical sausage made of a sheep’s liver, heart and lungs, which are traditionally chopped with beef or mutton suet, oatmeal, onion and spices. It is packed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled.

Too squeamish to try it? There are haggis-flavoured chips available on the market.

Haggis also comes in different colours, from light brown to black. If cooked too long, its insides can burst out like a haggis river.

8. Literary inspiration

The title of J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye was based on one of Burns’ poems called Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.

As well, John Steinbeck’s famous 1937 novel Of Mice and Men also got its title from a Burns poem called To a Mouse.

7. Auld Lang Syne

Burns wrote the classic tune often sung around the winter holidays. The Guinness Book of World Records has named it one of the top three most popular songs in the English language, along with Happy Birthday, and For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.

6. Out of this world

Astronaut Nick Patrick carried a book of Burns’ poetry with him while on a space mission in 2010.

5. Stamp of approval

In 1956, commemorative stamp to mark the 160th anniversary of Burns’ death was put out not by his home country – but by the Soviet Union.

4. Baby Daddy

Burns was quite the ladies man. In the span of 11 years, he had 13 children with five different women. He was only ever married to one of these women, Jean Armour. His last child, born to Armour and named Maxwell Burns, arrived on the day of his funeral in 1796.

3. Grave diggers

Burns’ body was exhumed in 1815 so it could be put in a new mausoleum. A plaster of his skull was done for researchers to study it, and they found it was larger than the average man’s skull.

2. Statuesque

Of all writers, none have more statues dedicated to them around the world than Burns. The oldest one still existing is in Camperdown, Australia. It was carved by John Greenshields in 1826 and shipped to Australia in the 1850s.

1. King of Pop

The late singer Michael Jackson is said to have been a fan of Burns and actually worked on an album that put his poems to music, which was never released.

Source: Scotland.org, VisitScotland.com, LiveLoveScotland.com