Burns Night

Posted on January 24, 2014

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Burns Night celebrations at Oxford University. (Wojtek Szymczak / Cherwell.org)

Burns Night celebrations at Oxford University.
(Wojtek Szymczak / Cherwell.org)

I received an email this week from a British formalwear retailer promoting plaid bow ties and waistcoats for Burns Night.  I had heard of Robbie Burns Day before but had no idea of the formal customs associated with it until I checked out Wikipedia:

A Burns supper is a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns, author of many Scots poems. The suppers are normally held on or near the poet’s birthday, 25 January, sometimes also known as Robert Burns Day (or Robbie Burns Day or Rabbie Burns Day) or Burns Night, although they may in principle be held at any time of the year.

Burns suppers are most common in Scotland and Northern Ireland however there has been a surge in Burns’ Night celebrations in the UK events industry seeing the evening being celebrated outside their traditional confines of Burns Clubs, Scottish Societies, expatriate Scots, or aficionados of Burns’ poetry.

Burns suppers may be formal or informal. Both typically include haggis (a traditional Scottish dish celebrated by Burns in Address to a Haggis), Scotch whisky, and the recitation of Burns’s poetry. Formal dinners are hosted by organisations such as Burns clubs, the Freemasons, or St Andrews Societies and occasionally end with dancing when ladies are present. Formal suppers follow a standard format.

So there you go: another excuse to dress up in black tie or, if you can claim Scottish ancestry, Highland Dress.

Happy Burns Night!

Posted in: Miscellanea