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Planning a Robbie Burns Supper for Burns Night

Updated on March 16, 2017
Carving the haggis at a Burns Night celebration.
Carving the haggis at a Burns Night celebration. | Source

Celebrating Robbie Burns Day

This page provides the Order of the Burns Night Supper, as well as the the Selkirk Grace, the address to the haggis, the closing, and even a recipe for making your own haggis.

Whether you call it Robbie Burns Day or Robbie Burns Night, or just Burns night, this annual celebration of the Scottish poet's birthday is not to be missed by the Scottish and those who wish they were!

Robert Burns is also known as Rabbie Burns, Scotland's favourite son, the Ploughman Poet, the Bard of Ayrshire and (in Scotland) as The Bard. He lived from January 25, 1759 to July 21, 1796.

When is it?

Robbie Burns Day is observed annually on January 25. This was Burns' birthday.

Table setting for Robbie Burns Night Supper.
Table setting for Robbie Burns Night Supper. | Source

The Order of the Burns Supper or Burns Night

Burns Nights or Burns Suppers are held world over, wherever there are folks of Scottish heritage. These celebrations can be formal or informal, but Scotch whiskey and haggis are staples.

A Burns Night will observe some or all of these components.

The Order of the Supper

1 Start of the evening

2. Host's welcoming speech

3. Entrance of the haggis

4. Supper

5. Loyal toast

6. Immortal memory

7. Appreciation

8. Toast to the lasses

9, Reply to the toast to the lasses

10. Other toasts and speeches

11. Works by Burns

12. Dancing

13. Closing

The Selkirk Grace

Attributed to Robert Burns

Traditionally, a Robbie Burns Day (or Night) celebration begins with the host's opening remarks, followed by the Selkirk grace, or prayer.

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

Sae the Lord be thankit.

Following the grace, a soup course is served. Traditionally, this will be Scotch broth, cock-a-leekie soup or potato soup. The soup may be accompanied by Scottish Oat Bread.

A piper at a Burns Night Supper
A piper at a Burns Night Supper | Source

Do you Prefer Canned Haggis?

Caledonian Kitchen Haggis With Highland Beef, 14.5-Ounce Cans (Pack of 3)
Caledonian Kitchen Haggis With Highland Beef, 14.5-Ounce Cans (Pack of 3)

In case making your own haggis sounds like a daunting activity, you might want to try the ready-made variety in a can.

 

Entrance of the Haggis

A high point of any Robbie Burns Day celebration

As everyone stands, a cook brings in the haggis and places it in front of the host. Usually, a piper playing an appropriate tune walks ahead of the cook. A Man's A Man for A' That or Brose & Butter are examples of two such melodies that the piper might choose.

A Haggis Recipe

Just in case you want to make your own

A traditional haggis is cooked in a sheep's stomach, if you can find one. Alternatively, you can use a plastic baking bag or 1 large sausage casing

If you are using a sheep's stomach, double the ingredients below:

1 sheep liver, heart,& lights (lungs)

1/2 lb beef suet

2 large onions

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp allspice

1 lb oatmeal, the old fashioned, slow ooking type

1 to 1 1/2 cup broth in which liver,heart and lungs were cooked

Method

Trim the liver, heart and lungs. Put in pot with water, bring to a boil and summer for an hour and a half or until cooked. Cool. Keep the broth.

Put the liver and heart through the meat grinder. Take the lungs, cut out as much gristle as possible and put them through a grinder also. Put the raw beef suet through the grinder.

Add all grinded meats and suet to a big pot. Peel, slice and chop the onions and add them to the meat in the pot. Add the salt and spices. Mix.

Toast or brown the oatmeal lightly in a heavy bottomed pot on top of the stove. Add the oatmeal to the pot of meats and mix thoroughly. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cup of broth from boiling the meat.

Add enough broth so the meat mixture sticks together when you grab a handful.

Stuff it in the sheeps stomach, plastic bag or sausage casing. Stuff it about 3/4 full if you are using a stomach or a plastic bag. If you are using a sheep's stomach, have the smooth side out and sew up the opening.

Wrap it in cheesecloth and be sure to prick it with a skewer so it won't explode from the steam. Prick it occasionally again during the early part of cooking.

Fill large pot with at least 1 gallon of water and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 4 to 5 hours.

Typically, you serve your Robbie Burns Day haggis with neeps (turnips) or clapshot (mashed turnips & potatoes)

The haggis
The haggis | Source

Address to the Haggis

Said with some flare and drama

Upon receiving the haggis at a Robbie Burns Day supper, the host offers this poem:

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,

Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!

Aboon them a' ye tak your place,

Painch, tripe, or thairm:

Well are ye wordy o' 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 dicht,

An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,

Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,

Like ony ditch;

And then, O what a glorious sicht,

Warm-reekin, rich!

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

Deil tak the hindmaist! 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 o're 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?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,

As feckless as a wither'd rash,

His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,

His nieve a nit;

Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,

O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,

The trembling earth resounds his tread.

Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,

He'll mak it whistle;

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

Like taps o' thristle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,

And dish them out their bill o' fare,

Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware

That jaups in luggies;

But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,

Gie her a haggis!

Following the address to a haggis, a whiskey toast is offered, and guests then eat their dinner.

The Closing: Auld Lang Syne

At the closing of the Robbie Burns Day Supper, guests stand, join hands and sing Robbie Burns song, Auld Lang Syne. This is the original version as Burns wrote it.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And days o' auld lang syne

CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!

And surely I’ll be mine!

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,

and pou’d the gowans fine;

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,

sin’ auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,

frae morning sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

sin’ auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !

And gies a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,

for auld lang syne.

Robbie Burns Vids on YouTube

Robbie Burns Day Fan or Foe? - Please leave a message

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    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      4 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @tonyleather: I do not love haggis, LOL. Anyway, enjoy your feast and thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      tonyleather 

      4 years ago

      I love Haggis, so Burns night celebrations are a Must in my house!

    • uneasywriter lm profile image

      uneasywriter lm 

      5 years ago

      Wow the writer of Auld Lang Syne. Very cool subject and lens!

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @MissMalaprop: If they are Scottish, they will know all about Robby Burns! Thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      MissMalaprop 

      5 years ago

      I've never heard of this holiday! I'll have to ask my Scottish friends more about their thoughts on it!

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @Cari Kay 11: Thanks Cari. The haggis thing is not for sissies. LOL

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 

      5 years ago

      I recently discovered, through my genealogy research, that my great great grandparents came over from Scotland. I never even knew I was Scottish. I am so fascinated now. Still thinking on the whole haggis thing though :) Great page. Blessed!

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @DebMartin: Thanks for visiting, Deb. I married and divorced a Campbell, but kept the name. :-}

    • profile image

      DebMartin 

      5 years ago

      As a good Scottish woman (I'm a Campbell on my Mother's side) I enjoy Robbie Burns. I'm a big fan.

    • RosaMorelli profile image

      RosaMorelli 

      6 years ago

      I lived in Scotland for a while, and my friend had the best Burns night *ever*! It was informal, but we all read his poetry, ate lots of haggis, tatties and neeps, and broke out the best single malt in his honour :)

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My Mum used to celebrate Robbie Burns Day, no haggis... but blood puddin' ewwwwwww

      Nice to meet another Canadian!

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @JoshK47: Thank you so much for the blessing and the visit.

    • profile image

      Edutopia 

      6 years ago

      Never knew he existed but through this lens I've gone and googled him and found a new poet to read! Thanks.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 

      6 years ago

      Great lens! I'm quite fond of Robbie Burns myself, and I do, indeed, love some haggis. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      now I know about this day, thank you for the write up.

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @Countryluthier: LOl! Thanks for visiting.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 

      6 years ago from Virginia

      We nearly had a brawl a number of years ago when mess members started acting rude during some poetry. Thankfully, no dirks were pulled. It is a great tradition and well befitting the son of Scotland.

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @virgoansun: I have to admit I'm not a haggis fan. I am a fan of Robbie Burns, though. Who wouldn't love his well known poem, My Love is a Red, Red Rose.

    • profile image

      virgoansun 

      7 years ago

      Best haggis (also vegetarian one) is sold by McSweens the Butcher in Edinburgh - they do send them all over the world. I like haggis served with mashed potatoes and turnip. Yum. Am a big Burns fan and have visited his birthplace - a modest cottage in Ayrshire. Anyway, liked the lens!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 

      7 years ago

      Despite my Scottish roots, I'll have to say no to the haggis. Lensrolling this to my Auld Lang Syne lens.

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @lasertek lm: There is always next year. Thanks for dropping by.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      7 years ago

      Interesting lens! Wish a had read this before January 25.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      7 years ago

      We had veggie haggis last night! He was certainly a man to remember - good lens!

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @jptanabe: I've never been a fan of haggis but the whiskey could interest me (in moderation, of course!) LOL

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Oh yes Burns fan! Raised in Scotland what else could I be, and I still love haggis though I no longer indulge in the whisky. Blessed.

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @JJNW: Great! I agree with you about haggis. It's not on my menu. LOL

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 

      7 years ago from USA

      This is news to me, and I love all things Scottish (except haggis!). Putting it on my calendar!

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      8 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @reasonablerobby: Well, wishing you a Happy Birthday! Hoot mon!

    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 

      8 years ago

      This is my birthday! Hoots mon, your readers might be fascinated in the Electric Brae (featured here on Squidoo) too an amazing optical illusion just outside Ayr Scotland near where Rabbie Burns lived.

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      8 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @norma-holt: Thank you! I am honored as always to be blessed by an angel.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 

      8 years ago

      Love Robbie Burns. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust

    • profile image

      johnherrera33 

      8 years ago

      I'm always fascinated in reading interesting squidoo lenses. Yours is one of them..

      china usb flash drive

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      8 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @indigoj: I would be honored if you add this lens to yours. Thanks for visiting.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      Wonderful! How did I miss this one? I live in Scotland and would love to add this to my All About Scotland lens where I've grouped together my own Scottish lenses and some favourites from other lensmasters.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      8 years ago from USA

      Congratulations new Giant!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      My Celtic duo the Pratie Heads used to do Robert Burns night at the Royal Mile Pub in the DC area but it got too risky traveling that far in January. Our van slid off the road in ice in Richmond Virginia coming home and I, quite pregnant, had to stagger with my partner Bob through the snow to get help. Not worth it. I miss it, though. Thanks for the memories!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      10 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I've never been to a Burns supper, but we did go to a Scottish festival a few years ago and it was great! Very nice lens!

    • Clairwil LM profile image

      Clairwil LM 

      10 years ago

      You've been nominated for Lens Of The Week!

      https://hubpages.com/community/Alllnsoftheweek

    • Janet2221 profile image

      Janet2221 

      10 years ago

      Very unique and fun lens! Welcome to the Let's Party group. :)

    • profile image

      Benson1 

      10 years ago

      This is great! 5 out of 5 Love Robbie Burns and Robbie Burns dinners! Our Scottish relatives actually don't fancy haggis, but they get them for us Canadians when we visit. Best memory of our last visit to Scotland - eating haggis lasagna in an old stone pub up by Lock Ness. Marvellous!

    • Clairwil LM profile image

      Clairwil LM 

      10 years ago

      Great lens *****

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