Burns Night Supper

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

SCOTLAND’S National Bard, Robert Burns was born in Alloway near Ayr on 25th January 1759 to William Burness, a poor tenant farmer, and Agnes Broun, Robert Burns was the eldest of seven.

In 1785 Burns was a guest at a Haggis Club in Kilmarnock where five lawyers met for dinner. When asked to say grace he instead chose to address the haggis.

The following year the poem was completed and the ‘Address to a Haggis‘ became the first Burns poem to be published in a newspaper when it appeared in the Caledonian Mercury of 20th December 1786.

On the fifth anniversary of Robert Burns’ death nine Ayrshire gentlemen sat down in Alloway to what is now regarded as the first ever Burns Supper. The assembled dined on good Scottish fayre and haggis. They recited the ‘Address to a Haggis‘ and drunk several toasts.

The company agreed to meet in January of the next year to commemorate the poet’s birth and so evolved the custom of Burns Suppers held annually on 25th January.

Sliced, uncooked Haggis

Sliced, uncooked Haggis

The formal procedure for the ‘Address to a Haggis’ would be for a piper to lead the procession carrying the haggis to the dinner table. The cook would carry the haggis on a hot dish followed by the person entrusted with the recitation. After the address all three would be offered a glass of whisky and everyone would stand to toast ‘The Haggis’.

Even if you do not have a resident piper!! you are invited to join in this celebration. No matter how small your gathering take time to address the haggis. If you have no volunteers, pass the verse around and have everyone participate for a verse.

During the third verse, at line two the person addressing the haggis would insert a knife into the top of the haggis, breaking open the haggis and releasing the steam and ‘reek’. Scoop out the haggis and enjoy what has become Scotland’s national dish served with mashed potatoes and turnip.

Haggis Neeps and Tatties

Haggis Neeps and Tatties

Address To The Haggis

haggis poem

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
Or…if that’s too much of a mouthful, here is the translationFair and full is your honest, jolly face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
The groaning trencher there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!
His knife see rustic Labour wipe,
And cut you up with ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm steaming, rich!
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.
Then spoon for spoon, the stretch and strive:
Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,
Till all their well swollen bellies by-and-by
Are bent like drums;
Then old head of the table, most like to burst,
‘The grace!’ hums
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?
Is there that over his French ragout,
Or olio that would sicken a sow,
Or fricassee would make her vomit
With perfect disgust,
Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On such a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Poor devil! see him over his trash,
As feeble as a withere

 

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