The life of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, is celebrated every year on 25 January. The first Burns supper was organised by his friends after his death in 1796 – and the gathering of friends to share stories, do poetry readings, drink whisky and eat haggis has become an important event in every Scotsman’s calendar.
This year Burns Night falls on a Wednesday, so why not boost your mid-week trade and maybe encourage Dry January customers to finish their fast that little bit earlier by having your own celebration? Here’s what you need to know:
Haggis facts (or fiction!)
• Wild haggis (Haggis Scotticus) can only be found in the Scottish Highlands. Their left and right legs are of different lengths, allowing them to run quickly around the steep hillsides that make
up their natural habitat, but only in one direction.
• There are two varieties of haggis, one with longer right legs and the other with longer left legs. Unfortunately the two varieties cannot cross breed, as they overbalance when mating.
• According to a 2003 online survey commissioned by haggis manufacturers Hall’s of Broxburn, one-third of U.S. visitors to Scotland believe that the wild haggis really exists.
• Haggis is actually a traditional Scottish ‘sausage’, made by stuffing a sheep’s stomach with diced sheep’s liver, heart and lungs, oatmeal, suet and seasoning. Vegetarian varieties do exist!
You can still get in the swing of things by having a whisky event, with soup and haggis canapés. You can microwave many haggis varieties, so preparation is quick and easy.
A Traditional Burns Supper Menu
Scottish Smoked Salmon
Vegetarian Haggis – great for
those put off by the thought of
Serve with ‘Tatties and Neeps’ –
creamed potatoes and mashed swede
‘Tipsy Laird’ – Trifle with Whisky
Cheese with Oatcakes
Drambuie; Glayva or to be really authentic, make up your very own Atholl Brose
With the Meal
Scottish ale or to mark the close link between Scotland and France, Claret
Single Malt whiskies
THE CEREMONY – MAIN EVENTS
• The host welcomes all guests with an Opening Address
• A reading of the Selkirk Grace precedes the meal
• The Haggis – carried by the chef – is piped in
• ‘Address to a Haggis’ is recited and the haggis is ceremonially cut open and toasted with whisky by guests, before being taken away for serving
• At the end of the meal ‘The Immortal Memory’ – a short, lively and irreverent speech about Burns is recited
• Female guests are addressed with the ‘Toast to the Lassies’
• One of the ladies can then get revenge with the
‘Reply from the Lassies’
• The evening continues with Scottish music, dancing, guests reciting or singing Burns poems and songs and a great deal of whisky consumption
• To end, all sing Auld Lang Syne
Don’t fancy haggis by itself. Why not try chicken breast stuffed with haggis and wrapped in pancetta…click here for the recipe Chicken Balmoral