Burns Night

This past Friday the six Hansons experienced a "first".  Our first Robbie Burns night.  Robert Burns is the Scottish National Poet and a man celebrated every year for the past 200 years.  Robert Burns, affectionately referred to as the "Bard" lived from 1759-1796.  Around the date of his birthday, January 25th, Burns Suppers are held in honor of this man's life.  He is an esteemed literary figure who contributed much to Scottish history and the like.  And up until a few weeks ago our family had never heard of the man.

That all changed when our friends, one of whom is Scottish, was reminiscing about past Burns Suppers he had attended.  The ceremony which he described and of course the menu intrigued us all.  Fast forward to last weekend and we found ourselves invited to a traditional Burns Night.  The Things and I deemed a school lesson to learn about the man, Rabbie Burns, was appropriate, in order to be prepared for the evening ahead.  Upon doing so we came across countless poems, most of which were written during the Revolutionary time period.  The website, http://www.electricscotland.com/burns/rburns.html, says of Robert Burns, "Burns' poetry falls into two main groups: English and Scottish. His English poems are, for the most part, inferior specimens of conventional eighteenth-century verse. But in Scottish poetry he achieved triumphs of a quite extraordinary kind."  The above site describes in great detail Robert Burns life, his work and the man that he was, if you are so inclined to discover more.  We found it fascinating. 

We also were curious as to the "ceremony" aspect of the evening.  Labor intensive, serious yet jovial and quite entertaining, are the words I would use to describe a Burns Night.  It seems to be all about honoring the man that was Rabbie Burns and his fondness for food, drink and women, or lasses, is quite apparent through it all.  All that is needed is a "gracious host, a foolhardy chairman" and of course a wealth of Scotch.  Check, check and check.  The menu included, haggis, tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnips) and for dessert a combination of delicious berries, cream and toasted oats, traditional fare.  Throughout the night glasses are raised and toasting occurs, accompanied by poetry reading from the "Bard's" collection and the sharing of stories from friends. 

This honorary supper night was began by a group of Robert's friends a few years after his death and it seems as though the tradition is as alive today as it was then.  So much so that our friends decided last night that this was only the first of many Burns nights to be spent together, no matter the country.  Seems that our January 25th's have been decided for the upcoming years.  Next year, maybe Scotland, possibly Budapest.  Who knows?  Either way, I am sure that Rabbie would enjoy knowing that friends are gathering and indulging in honor of him.  His poetry really does steal the spotlight. 

At our supper I even read a poem titled,

"To a Mouse"

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

Now imagine an American accent, trying to sound Scottish and attempting to understand exactly what the poet is communicating.  Honestly just trying not to dissappoint our friends, whom this meant so much to. I was most definitely laughing at myself.  At the same time I found myself intrigued by this man's prose and of course his topics of choice.  The time period in which he wrote provides such an exciting backdrop. 
* The men parading the haggis, I almost forgot to mention the "friendship cup", that is what Husband Jared is holding.  It is a traditional silver chalis of sorts that is passed around the table amongst the guests.  Yes my friends, that is a kilt, traditional and authentic.  To say the Things got a huge kick out of that would be an understatement.  Bravo!

 * A toast to lassies and laddies
* My turn to read

*Our friend, the "foolhardy chairman" addressing the haggis and the Things and friends gathered around

The night eventually came to an end, rather early in the morning, and at the end of it all the host was thanked, the chairman applauded and farewells shared.  Traditionally, the song, "Auld Lang Syne" is sung in turns by the group.  Although our night didn't conclude with singing we did leave with memories not only of the food, (haggis was a first) but of a night shared with the dearest of friends.

** Disclaimer:  My Scottish references may not be accurate and please do not judge and my history of Robert Burns leaves much to be desired, this I know.  Go find out for yourself what this night is all about, that is if you're so inclined, or just enjoy my photos and my description of the evening we participated in and take it for what it's worth.

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