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The immortal Rabbie Burns Wi, Haggis Neeps and Tatties

Updated on January 11, 2012

Rabbie Burns

Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) The 25th of January is the birthdate of Scotland's most famous Bard Rabbie Burns.It is celebrated all over the world with the well known Burns supper.

There cannot be many people who haven,t heard or know a Burns song or poem

One of the most famous has to be Auld Lang Syne, which is sung as the bells ring in a new year.

I am not going to concentrate on Rabbie,s work,but rather on the Burns supper celebration and that well known meal.Haggis Neeps and Tatties

What is a haggis?

The myth

A haggis is a small three-legged animal native to the Highland glens and mountains?. haggis is only available in season - 30th November (St. Andrews Day) to 25th January (Robert Burns birthday).

The Haggis is a wild but shy creature inhabiting upland Scotland The young haggis is typified in form by being quite small and squat whilst in advancing years they tend to be fuller and longer in the body. Myths about them only having three legs (one uphill leg and two downhill) are completely false - they like most legged creatures have four legs, but their downhill legs are longer.

The facts

A savoury dish made from the internal organs of a sheep (minced) mixed with oatmeal, spices, salt, pepper and boiled in a sheep's stomach.

In a 2003 survey of 1000 American tourists Almost a third believed a haggis was a wild animal. About one in four surveyed thought that they might even be able to catch a wild haggis. It’s a tribute to the Scottish that they can keep straight faces long enough to perpetuate this myth and actually convince their visitors that haggis hunts take place regularly.

Burns supper celebration

If you are still with me I shall give you a brief outline of the format of a Burns supper

The evening begins with the sound of the bagpipes with guests standing and clapping in time to the music. The host then welcomes everyone and says the Selkirk Grace

"Some hae meat and cannot eat.

Some cannot eat that want it:

But we hae meat and we can eat,

Sae let the Lord be thankit.'

The guests are asked to stand to receive the haggis. A piper then leads the chef, carrying the haggis to the top table, while the guests accompany them with a slow hand clap.

The chairman or invited guest then recites Burns' famous poem to a haggis.. When he reaches the line 'an cut you up wi' ready slight', he cuts open the haggis with a sharp knife.This is followed by the first toast of the night to the haggis.

Below is the original and a translated version.

Address to a haggis translation

All hail your honest rounded face,

Great chieftain of the pudding race;

Above them all you take your place,

Beef, tripe, or lamb:

You're worthy of a grace

As long as my arm.

The groaning trencher there you fill,

Your sides are 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 the rustic goodman wipes,

To cut you through with all his might,

Revealing your gushing entrails bright,

Like any ditch;

And then, what a glorious sight,

Warm, welcome, rich.

Then plate for plate they stretch and strive,

Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,

Till all the bloated stomachs by and by,

Are tight as drums.

The rustic goodman with a sigh,

His thanks he hums.

Let them that o'er his French ragout,

Or hotchpotch fit only for a sow,

Or fricassee that'll make you spew,

And with no wonder;

Look down with sneering scornful view,

On such a dinner.

Poor devil, see him eat his trash,

As feckless as a withered rush,

His spindly legs and good whip-lash,

His little feet

Through floods or over fields to dash,

O how unfit.

But, mark the rustic, haggis-fed;

The trembling earth resounds his tread,

Grasp in his ample hands a flail

He'll make it whistle,

Stout legs and arms that never fail,

Proud as the thistle.

You powers that make mankind your care,

And dish them out their bill of fare.

Old Scotland wants no stinking ware,

That slops in dishes;

But if you grant her grateful prayer,

Give her a haggis

Address to a haggis original

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 wordy of a grace

As lang's 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 distill

Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,

An' cut ye up wi' ready slight,

Trenching your gushing entrails bright

Like onie ditch;

And then, O what a glorious sight,

Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they strech an' strive:

Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,

Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,

Are bent like drums;

Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,

'Bethankit!' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout

Or olio that wad staw a sow,

Or fricassee wad mak her spew

Wi' perfect sconner,

Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view

On sic 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;

Thro' bluidy flood or field to dash,

O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,

The trembling earth resounds his tread.

Clap in his walie nieve a blade,

He'll make it whissle;

An' legs, an' arms, an' heads will sned,

Like taps o' thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,

And dish them out their bill o 'fare,

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware

That jaups in luggies;

But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,

Gie her a Haggis

The typical menu for a Burns supper

Cock-a-leekie soup

(chicken and leek soup. the original recipe includes prunes)

Haggis warm reeking,wi,Champit tatties and bashed neeps

( Haggis mashed turnip and mashed potatoes)

Typsy laird

(sherry trifle)

A tassie o, coffee

After the meal the nights proceeding include.

The immortal memory

An invited guest will give a short lighthearted speech about Rabbie burns.

Toast to the lassies

A light hearted and witty address to the ladies in the audience.As a Burns supper was usually all male this was originally a thank you to the ladies who prepared the meal and to toast the lassies in Burn,s life


A time for the ladies to reply. Again should be funny but not insulting.

Once the speeches are complete the celebrations continue with a wide variety of the bards poems and songs.The evening will finish with the guests linking arms and singing auld lang syne.

If you are still with me thanks,and if you would like more info on Rabbie click

For more information on Rabbie Burns click here

Toast to the lassies

Be honest.Before you read this did you know what haggis was?

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    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago

      ...this may be the ultimate/definitive Scottish hub - you have certainly done your homework and is a true labor of love and so entertaining and enlightening for your readers too!!! If you google OPIE'S in Hamilton, Ontario Canada - that is the Scottish butcher shop which serves haggis and black pudding which I both enjoy from time to time - and all other things - Scottish.

      It's a hour's drive from where I live out in the country by Lake Erie (which is a pretty big loch by the way -lol)

    • lyndre profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Scotland

      Thanks for the comments

    • Jack o'Nory profile image

      Jack o'Nory 

      7 years ago from A very happy place in the English countryside.

      Great stuff.

    • mecheshier profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great Hub. I love food, I love history, and I love Scotland. Thank you for such a wonderful article!


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