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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Burns Night!

Tonight is Burns Night. Burns Night is a Scottish holiday celebrating Scotland's very own Robert Burns, a fantastic poet.

Burns Night in Scotland means having a big party and as I am one that believes in finding just about any excuse to celebrate, I thought I'd share how to throw your own shindig!

How to throw your very own Burns Night celebration:

Welcome - A selected speaker acts as Master of Ceremonies and welcomes guests to the dinner (with bagpipes playing in the background, of course!) before reciting the Selkirk Grace - "Some hae meat and canna eat, and some would eat that want it, But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit.'

* 'Piping' of the Haggis - Everyone stands as the main course is brought in - haggis - which is usually displayed on a large dish.

Address to Haggis ( - The host performs a theatrical version of BurnsAddress to the Haggis then invites guests to host the haggis and everyone, including the chef, raises their glasses and shouts 'The Haggis' before enjoying a dram of whisky.

The Meal - The centerpiece of every Burns' Supper menu is the iconic haggis (a traditional Scottish sausage made from a sheep's stomach stuffed with diced sheep's liver, lungs and heart, oatmeal, onion, suet and seasoning). Traditional accompaniments to the haggis are neeps and tatties, or as they are more commonly known - turnips and potatoes, which are normally served mashed.

* What to Wear - It is traditional for Scots to wear kilts instead of a black tie and suit as they would at other formal occasions.

The Immortal Memory - The main speaker gives an enthralling account of Burns' life to remind guests why Burns' memory should be immortal. His literary prowess, politics, nationalistic pride in Scotland, faults and humor should all be explored to give the audience an insight into Burns' life and works in a witty, yet serious way.

Toast to the Lassies - A humorous speech written for the evening that gently ridicules the (few) shortcomings of women that aims to amuse both sides of the audience. Despite the initial mockery, the speech ends on a positive note with the speaker asking the men to raise their glasses in a toast 'to the lassies.'

* Reply to the Toast of the Lassies -  The chance for a female speaker to retort with some good-natured jokes of her own, beginning with a sarcastic thanks on behalf of the women present for the previous speaker's 'kind' words. 

* Auld Lang Syne - A Burns Supper traditionally ends with the singing of Burns' famous song about parting, Auld Lang Syne. Everyone joins hands in a large circle and sings the words together. Auld Lang Syne is now so well known, across the globe that The Guinness Book of World Records lists it as one of the top three most frequently sung songs in the English language


Every good celebration needs some food! Here's a recipe for haggis.

Traditional Haggis, Neeps & Tatties

Jeff Bland, The Balmoral

Serves 4


1.5 cups of haggis – purchased from a good quality butcher
4 baking potatoes
1.5 oz butter
1.5 oz cream
1 turnip
8 shallots
1 sprig of thyme
3 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
1.5 oz of sugar
1 cup of red wine
½ cup of port
2 cups of brown chicken stock
About 1 shot of whisky
1 cup of cream

·     Scrub the potatoes and bake them whole in the skins in the oven at 180 degrees until cooked.
·     Remove from the oven and scoop out the flesh of the potatoes and pass through a fine sieve or potato ricer. Add in the cream and butter and mix.
·     At the same time, peel and dice the turnip and cook in salted water then pass through a fine sieve or potato ricer.
·     Follow the butcher’s instructions for the haggis based on size.
·     Use a round metal ring and layer with one third of haggis layer followed by a third of mashed turnip before adding the mashed potatoes to fill the ring. To heat put in a medium oven until warm.
·     Make a stock from the port, red wine, sugar, garlic, thyme and salt. Simmer in a pan together with the shallots until tender. Remove the tough outside layer when cooked.
·     Make a whisky sauce with the brown chicken stock and cream before adding the whisky at the end to taste.
·     Serve the timbale of haggis with 2 shallots and the whisky sauce.

Credit: Rocco Forte Hotels


  1. I did a Burns night post as well!! Though mine focused on Scottish lit instead of Scottish cuisine. Alas we did not eat haggis last night, though we still piped in our food, that counts for something, right?

  2. What fun! I've never heard of this event nor the wonderful dish! Thanks for sharing so silly Americans like me can expand their horizons. :)

  3. We went to a Burns Supper outside of Edinburgh when we visited in 2011, and it was simply awesome! One of the highlights of our trip. The haggis was actually very tasty. :) Thanks for bringing back great memories!


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