Will you be addressing the haggis this weekend? No, not the usual kind of address we deal with here At Home in Edinburgh – but on 25th January, people up and down the country will be gathering to celebrate the life and works of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns.
Burns’ Best – our pick of Edinburgh’s Burns’ Night celebrations
2019 marks Burns’ 260th birthday, and it should be no surprise that Scotland’s capital is celebrating in style. Here’s our pick of events, from the traditional to the quirky!
24th and 25th January: Delve into Burns’ stories, song and lore with an alternative Burns Supper in the beautiful setting of the Storytelling Court. The evening is hosted by storytellers David Campbell and Ruth Kirkpatrick, with clarsach player Katie Harrigan.
25th January: Step into history on George Street, as Burns is believed to have spent time in the elegant George Street townhouse which the Printing Press Bar & Kitchen calls home. Enjoy a traditional Burns’ Supper with a modern Scottish twist.
25th and 26th January: If a red-carpet welcome is more your style, then step aboard Britannia for an evening fit for royalty. A four-course meal will be served in the State Dining Room (by the butlers, of course), followed by a whisky tasting in the State Drawing Room. Tickets also include a highlights tour of the Royal Yacht.
22 – 27 January: Part of Burns & Beyond, a new festival celebrating Scottish culture from Burns to now, the Red, Red Rose Street celebrations offer something for everyone. Events include theatre and comedy at the Gilded Balloon’s Rose Theatre and Captivate Theatre’s musical production Rabbie. There are also child-friendly events, with a free family ceilidh and the Rabbie Trail – families are invited to discover clues and Rabbie facts throughout Rose Street.
Robert Burns – the Ploughman Poet or the Greatest Scot?
Born in Ayrshire in 1759, Burns was the son of a tenant farmer – leading him to be dubbed ‘the Ploughman Poet’. Many of his poems and songs were written in the Scots language though he also wrote in Scots Dialect and in English. His work varied widely, from blunt political commentary to humorous observations and bawdy songs. Today, his work is acknowledged as an important part of Scotland’s literary history. Burns’ most famous song is ‘Auld Lang Syne’, recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the top three most popular songs in the entire English language.
2009 was a good year for Burns, as he was voted as the ‘Greatest Scot’ in a public poll held by television channel STV. In the same year, he became the first person ever to be featured on a commemorative bottle of Coca Cola. How about that for a claim to fame?
The ‘Great Chieftain’
In 1801 the first Burns’ Supper was held – an evening to celebrate the poet’s contribution to Scottish culture, where the menu was chosen to compliment the reading of a selection of Burns’ works. A Burns’ Supper is now the traditional way to commemorate the bard, with the centrepiece of the meal a haggis. The haggis is ‘addressed’ with Burns’ poem, ‘Address to a Haggis’, in which he describes it as the Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race. Perhaps something to keep in mind the next time you’re ordering a pudding supper at one of our excellent Edinburgh chippies…
Burns’ popularity has only increased, and since the creation of the Burns Federation in 1885 there are now around 400 affiliated clubs worldwide.
Hosting your own Burns’ Night?
#ScotlandIsNow has some great links to find out more about the bard, should you wish, including some fun facts – we’ll leave you with this one:
Did you know… that Burn’s work has featured in hundreds of films and TV programmes, including Hollywood classics like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946), ‘When Harry Met Sally’ (1989) and ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994)?