Scotland celebrates Burns Night
24 January 2016

All around the world, the life and work of the famous Scottish writer and poet Robert Burns (affectionately known as Rabbie Burns in Scotland) is celebrated with a special dinner - the Burns Supper. 

This supper was originally started by a group of his friends to honour his memory, a few years after he died in 1796. They are now celebrated annually on the date of his birth, 25 January.

Guests will eat haggis (a delicious mix of minced beef, oats, onions and spices) with mashed potatoes (or 'champit tatties' in Scots) and turnips ('bashed neeps'), and, of course, whisky to drink. During the evening the host and guests will recite some of Burns' poetry and make speeches.

The haggis is often 'piped in' (carried in behind someone playing the bagpipes) and then someone will address the haggis by reading one of Robert Burns' famous poems - Address to a Haggis. The poem is about how wonderful the haggis is, describing the haggis as the 'great chieftain o' the puddin'-race'. Maybe Robert Burns was having fun with this poem, but haggis did used to be a luxury meal.

Burns Night ends with a traditional Scottish song - Auld Lang Syne. This song was first written down by Burns and is now the second most popular song in the world after Happy Birthday!

Actor Sam Heughan has lent his voice for two special Burns Night animations to help honour Scotland’'s most famous poet.

The Scottish government is also encouraging fans from across the world to take a selfie with a Burns statue or a Burns-related item (e.g. a painting, book of poems, or even a traditional Burns Night supper of haggis, “neeps” and “tatties”) using #BurnsieAfter Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, there are more Burns statues in the world than of any other non-religious figure!

Find out more in this Ultimate Guide to Burns Night or come and experience it for yourself, studying at one of the accredited English language centres in Scotland.

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