Burns Night 2022: Celebrate the 263rd Burns Night with Sun Bingo

THIS year marks the 263rd birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns.

While the man himself may not be up to celebrating his birthday (we’ll forgive him at his age), his Scottish kin have kept the party going for over two-and-a-half centuries.

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So, for those of you how don’t know about the biggest birthday bash north of the border, let’s discuss just who this legendary birthday boy was.

Get your pins out laddies and wear your finest kilts (with nothing underneath if you’re braveheart enough); lassies, put on your fancy frocks (tartan patterned if you’re living with highland life) because it’s Burns Night!

The man, the myth, the legend

Burns was born on 25 January 1759. Although only alive for 37 years, he made quite the impact.

Not only did he have at least 12 children, but there isn’t a New Year’s Eve reveller alive who hasn’t quoted him, even if they didn’t know it or can’t remember doing it (it was New Year’s Eve after all).

The Scottish Bard composed Auld Lang Syne in 1788, the first verse and chorus of which are now synonymous with seeing in the New Year.

The song version, sung on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve in many countries, is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being one of the top three most popular songs in the English language.

Other notable works from Burns’ collection include To a Mouse and A Red, Red Rose.

A tradition is born

Honouring the poet with a Burns supper began in July 1801 when nine of his friends gathered to mark the fifth anniversary of his death.

The evening is said to have included a meal, performances of Burns’ poetry and speech in his honour.

Following the night’s success, the group decided to keep the tradition going but they moved the date to Burns’ birthday and the rest, as they say, is history.

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How to celebrate Burns Night like a true Scot

If your Burns Night celebrations are going all out, they’ll begin with a piper welcoming the guests.

If you’re fresh out of a professional piper being at your beck and call, traditional music will do the trick.

The piper keeps piping until the high table is ready to be seated.

Once everyone is gathered, the Chair provides the welcomes and introductions as well as outlines the evening’s activities.

Before the famous Burns Night supper, the Selkirk Grace is recited:

  • 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.

The starter and dessert choices are flexible. Popular starter options include Scotch broth, cullen skink (soup made with smoked haddock and potatoes) or cock-a-leekie soup (chicken and leeks).

Meanwhile, the dessert options may include a traditional clootie dumpling (a steamed pudding made with dried fruit and spices) or cranachan (similar to an Eton Mess, made of oatmeal, raspberries, whipped cream, whisky and honey).

This is usually rounded off with a cheeseboard. 

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The main course is the main attraction. You don’t have to be a highlander to know that a Scottish celebration will of course feature haggis.

A traditional haggis is made of the liver, heart and lungs of a sheep, minced and mixed with suet and oatmeal, seasoned with onion, cayenne pepper and other spices.

If you don’t have the stomach for haggis, the meal provides one for you, as the mixture is all packaged in a sheep’s stomach and boiled.

Let’s not forget the accompanying neeps and tatties, or, as others may call them, (usually mashed) turnips and potatoes.

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A Burns Night with all the bells and whistles will have the coveted main brought in while the piper blasts the tunes (might as well get your money’s worth from the piper) and delivered on a silver platter while the guests stand and clap in time to the music.

Once the haggis procession reaches the Chair, they recite Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis. Everyone must then toast the haggis, which is often then doused in a dram of whisky for good measure before being cut with a sgian-dubh (pronounced ‘skee-en doo’) – the kilt knife. 

Celebrating the Scottish Bard is thirsty work. Wine or ale are the usual tipples for the dinner but the star spirit of the night, other than Robert Burns, is plenty of drams of whisky.

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Entertainment

After the supper comes the fun, poetry and (plenty of) whisky. Various poems or songs by Burns can be recited.

The Chair will kick things off by performing the ‘Immortal Memory’, which is a speech that should praise the life and works of the Bard.

The speech always ends with the line: “To the immortal memory of Robert Burns!”

Other notable speeches include the ‘Toast to the Lassies’ which should be a funny speech that praises women and all they do for men, particularly highlighting those in attendance (and quoting Burn’s works where possible).

This speech can get very chaotic as there’s no set words, other than the ending: “To the Lassies!” The women get a chance to take revenge for whatever has just been said about them in their responding speech, the ‘Reply from the Lassies’.    

The night eventual comes to an end, perhaps when the whisky has finally run out? By this point, those who’ve made it are treated to the Chair giving the vote of thanks.

Anyone still able to stand does so and everyone sings ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

Burns Night 2022

So, Burns’ Birthday Bonanza is finally here. It seems a great way to have fun in a dreary month and celebrate with friends and family.

Although, maybe not if you’ve been doing Veganuary or Dry January… Burns night has its traditions but, in the face of covid-19, it might look a little different this year.

How will you be celebrating the Scottish Bard’s big 2-6-3?

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