Do you know the history of the Burns Supper?

  • You are probably familiar with the fact that Burns Night (or Rabbie Burns Nicht) is celebrated on 25 January – the same day as Robert Burn’s birthday. It’s a celebration of the life and poetry of Robert Burns – The Bard – who is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. Some of his famous works include A Red, Red Rose (1794), Tam O’Shanter (1790), To a Mouse (1785), Address to a Haggis (1786) and of course the world renowned Auld Lang Syne (1788).

History of the Burns Supper

If you’re Scottish, you have no doubt celebrated at least one Burns Supper. These can be formal or informal, but both usually include the traditional Scottish dish, haggis, Scotch whisky and the recitation of Burns’s poetry. Other food associated with the occasion include cock-a-leekie soup, neeps, tatties and cranachan.

Did you know the first supper was held in memoriam at Burns Cottage by Burns’s friends, on 21 July 1801, the fifth anniversary of his death?

What happens at a formal gathering? Here is the standard order of the evening:

Piping in the guests
Host’s welcome speech
Soup course
‘Piping’ of the haggis
Address to a Haggis
Main course
Various toasts: Immortal Memory, Address to the Lassies and Reply to the Lassies
Closing speech

It’s customary for men to wear kilts and women to either wear shawls, skirts or dresses made from their family tartan.  The Scottish flag is also often displayed at Burns Night celebrations.

The importance of Scottish provenance for Inspire Catering is paramount. Lorna McFarlane, Owner had this to say: ‘We’re all about celebrating Scotland’s rich and delicious larder. Our desire to stay true to what we believe in has meant we have developed a number of key supplier partners who can provide goods and services right here in Scotland.

Our butcher, Yorkes of Dundee, are renowned for their black pudding and haggis which are made from family recipes handed down through the generations. It’s definitely worth a sample!’.

Did you also know…?

A leading food historian claims that haggis was actually invented by the English before being commandeered by the Scots! Catherine Brown has discovered references to the dish in a recipe book dated 1615, The English Housewife by Gervase Markham.

Haggis can be quite an acquired taste, but whether you’re a haggis hater or haggis lover – here is a small excerpt of Address to a Haggis to put you in the mood for this year’s Burns Night:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm;
Well ar ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my airm.

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