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How To Prepare For Burns Night

8 minute read
How To Prepare For Burns Night

Preparing for a Burns Night Meal

On Burns Night, gather to recite poetry, sing songs, eat haggis, and give multiple toasts honoring Robert Burns.

Every year on January 25th, Scots and want-to-be-Scots around the world celebrate Burns Night, the annual evening celebrating the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. This event honoring the life and works of Robert Burns is most commonly celebrated with a Burns supper. Follow the the five tips below to host your own Burns Night .

1. Line Up Your Music Playlist

As your guests arrive, greet them with Scottish music. While it’s traditional for a piper to play live at a Burns Night, you can queue up your Scottish playlist using Pandora, Spotify or Amazon Music.

2. Prepare Your Speech

Have a welcome speech ready to convey thanks to your friends and family for coming. After your welcome speech, it’s traditional to say the Selkirk Grace, which was famously performed by Robert Burns for the Earl of Selkirk.

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 thanket.

Roughly translated to:

Some have meat and cannot eat,
And some would eat that want it,
but we have meat and we can eat 
So let the Lord be thanked.

3. Plan Your Meal

Plan at least three courses for the Burns supper: soup course, haggis main course, and coffee. You can include others as well such as a cheese course or dessert course. While every course should be Scottish-inspired, the most important is your haggis course. When the haggis course is brought in, bagpipe music should be playing and either you or a guest needs to recite the “Address to Haggis”. Don’t forget to toast with whiskey before everyone digs in!

4. Assign Guests to Give Toasts

After coffee is served, it’s time for toasts. You’ll need to give the first toast to honor Burns which can be either humorous or serious depending on your personal preference. A male guest then gives the “Address to the Lassies”. Originally a thank you to the women who prepared the meal, it is now a humorous view of women. A female guest then answers with a similar “Reply to the Laddies”, given in the same spirit. Pick these guests ahead of time so they can prepare and work together on their toasts.

5.Choose Your Favorite Robert Burns Poems

The supper ends with the singing of Robert Burns’ most famous songs, such as Ae Fond Kiss, Parcel o’ Rogues and A Man’s a Man, and reciting of your favorite Burns poems. You or one of your guests can perform the entire set or guests can take turns. It’s also acceptable to read poems from writers inspired by Burns. If you have guests from other countries, they’re encouraged to perform pieces from their country’s most famous poets.

Your fun-filled Scottish evening will end with you and your guests holding hands to sing Auld Lang Syne. Give one last toast to your friends, family, and Burns and start counting down the days until next year’s celebration. Enjoy this night full of tradition and merriment!


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