City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Burns Night in Edinburgh


By edg - Posted on 18 January 2017

Robert Burns (cutout)
Event details
Time: 
Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - 6:00pm - 11:59pm

Various Burns Suppers, ceilidhs and similar celebrations take place around the city to celebrate the birth date of Scotland's National Bard, Robert Burns (1759-96).

Burns Supper Format

The ritual of the Burns Supper was started by close friends of Burns a few years after his death as a tribute to his memory.

More than 200 years after Burns there are literally tens of thousands of Burns Suppers organised around the world run not only by ex-patriate Scots, but also by admirers of the famous "ploughman poet".

The basic format has remained relatively unchanged since the end of the 18th century. It begins when the company are invited to receive the haggis

Opening address by host

A few welcoming words start the evening and the meal commences with the Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and cannot eat.
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

The company are asked to stand to receive the haggis.

A piper then leads the chef, carrying the haggis to the top table, while the guests accompany them with a slow handclap. The chairman or invited guest then recites Burns' famous poem To A Haggis. When he reaches the line "an cut you up wi' ready slight", he cuts open the haggis with a sharp knife.

To A Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,

(read full To A Haggis)

It's customary for the company to applaud the speaker then stand and toast the haggis with a glass of whisky.

The meal is then served.

The Immortal Memory

An invited guest is asked to give a short speech on Burns. There are many different types of Immortal Memory speeches, from light-hearted to literary, but the aim is the same - to outline the greatness and relevance of the poet today.

Toast To The Lasses

The main speech is followed by a more light-hearted address to the women in the audience. Originally this was a thank you to the ladies for preparing the food and a time to toast the 'lasses' in Burns' life. The tone should be witty, but never offensive, and should always end on a concilliatory note.

Response

The turn of the lasses to detail men's foibles. Again, should be humorous but not insulting.

Poem and Songs

Once the speeches are complete the evening continues with songs and poems. The evening will culminate with the company standing, linking hands and singing Auld Lang Syne to conclude the programme.