On January 25th every year, Scots and want-to-be-Scots around the world celebrate Burns Night, the annual evening devoted to the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. The life and works of Robert Burns is most commonly celebrated with a Burns supper with friends and family.
1.Get Your Music Ready
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 also queue up your Scottish playlist using Pandora, Spotify or Amazon Music.
2. Prepare Your Speech
Have a welcome speech ready to share conveying thanks to your friends and family for coming. After your speech, it’s traditional to say a Selkirk Grace, which was famously performed by 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.
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 guests need 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 and it can be 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
Supper will end 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 your 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!