Saturday, 24 January 2015

Celebrating Robert Burns

As many people around the world will know (and not just Scots), Sunday 25th January is Burns Night, when Burns Suppers will be held the length and breadth of Scotland and further afield. If anything, I think it's becoming even more popular these days, and this weekend there's even a huge party taking place on Facebook, hosted by a group of authors. Feel free to join in the fun with all things Scottish!

The pride of place at a Burns Supper is of course the Haggis, or 'Great Chieftain o' the puddin' race', as Burns calls it in his Address to the Haggis. It is normally brought in on a silver platter to the sound of the bagpipes and is pierced at the relevant part of the poem's recitation. Thereafter, you will probably hear toasts such as the Immortal Memory, and Toast to the Lassies, plus songs and poems to celebrate the Bard. And of course the odd wee dram of whisky, or two.

Here's the famous Selkirk Grace which is normally said before the meal:

"Some hae meat and canna eat,
and some wad eat that want it,
but we hae meat and we can eat,
and sae the Lord be thankit."

One of my favourite Burns songs is Ae Fond Kiss, beautifully sung here by the wonderful Eddi Reader.

My forthcoming novel, The Highland Lass, is very much set in Scotland. Although mainly a contemporary novel about family secrets, alternate short chapters from 1785/6 trace the story of Highland Mary, one of Burns' famous loves, and her romantic-tragic relationship with him, in Mary's own fictionalised voice. It is a meaningful story for me as she is buried in my home town and I've known about her since I was a child so I hope I've done her justice.

The most we'll be celebrating the day tomorrow is by having a haggis, neeps and tatties starter!

Enjoy your weekend, however you are spending it.


Patsy said...

I was once fortunate enough to witness a proper address to a Haggis, carried out with much tartan, enthusiasm and a whacking great dagger.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

That would be quite an experience, Patsy!

Rena George said...

Lovely post, Rosemary. Makes me feel misty-eyed for home.

Joan Fleming said...

Yes, Rosemary, butchers in Scotland and elsewhere are doing well selling haggis. There's even a vegetarian haggis available for veggies!

As a Burns enthusiast, I love this season, when all the media have something to offer us. My own last event - a Burns Supper - takes place on 7th February!

I'm really looking forward to reading The Highland Lass.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Rena - I know what you mean!

Hi Joan - thanks for your comment. I wonder if more people are eating haggis nowadays!

Julia said...

I wouldn't eat haggis if it was the last food on earth. It's all the nasty bits wrapped in something even nastier.:-0

Melanie said...

I remember the Burns suppers of old (well maybe not that old) when I was with our local Highland dancing group. We performed after the meal. Sadly, the hotel where the event was held has been pulled down and I've only been to one since. Not nearly as much fun.

I've hosted a few at my house for family and been a guest at some hosted by my cousin. What fun!

Speaking of hosting, I held a virtual Burns supper with Janice Horton as my special guest on my blog, Celtic Connexions, yesterday.