Burns Night the WeeBox Way
Haggis, whisky, poetry and pride! Burns Night, celebrated on and around the 25th January to mark the Bard’s birthday, is recognised around the globe by Scots and Scots-at-heart. Centred on auld traditions, here’s our WeeBox guide to Scotland’s famous annual shindig with tips on how to use your January WeeBox curated especially for the occasion.
Who was Robert Burns?
One of Scotland’s most iconic literary figures, Robert Burns was born in 1759 to a farming family in the small town of Alloway. He gained a reputation for his pioneering views on religion, politics and class-inequalities. Interestingly he lived a fairly impoverished life and his work only really gained fame after his death. We’re sure he would be stunned to know his words, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ were sung around the globe every Hogmanay!
How to Celebrate Burns Night
A night of friends, family and steeped in tradition, your Burns Supper will be a night to remember with WeeBox! Don your Brave ‘Scottish Alphabet’ apron to get in the spirit and get ready for a night of poetry, feast and fun.
Setting your Burns Supper table is an important part of creating the right atmosphere – be sure to have tartan napkins, thistles and red roses on display and lots of crystal whisky glasses! We have included a beautiful ‘Auld Lang Syne’ tea towel straight from the Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway for you to display as part of setting the scene.
Poetry and Scottish charm aside, Burns Night wouldn’t be the gathering it is without the gastronomic delights that are celebrated throughout the evening. And of course, before the feast is served, its traditional to recite the Selkirk Grace:
Some have meat and cannot eat,
Some cannot eat that want it;
But we have meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit
Satisfying Scotch broth, or Scottish soup, typically starts off the supper, with crusty bread and lashings of butter. Alternatively, cock-a-leekie, or ‘Scotland’s national soup’ is another delicious choice.
The best part of Burns revolves around the spectacle of the haggis. This ‘great chieftain o the puddin race’ is revered and celebrated like no other dish. For the grand entrance, get dressed in your best tartan, and pipe in the haggis on a silver platter! The haggis must of course be addressed with a riveting rendition of Burns’ poem ‘Address to the Haggis’. Remember to have your knife poised at the ready, and on cue (His knife see Rustic-labour dight), cut the haggis along its length, making sure to spill out some of the tasty gore within (trenching its gushing entrails). The address must finish with a raucous whisky toast ‘To the Haggis’!
But where do you find haggis? In the majestic Highlands? Roaming the lochs? Or ….. at a Scottish butcher?! If you’re not lucky enough to live near a traditional Scottish butcher, you can lay your hands on traditional haggis online. It can be baked or boiled, and there are innumerate versions, from vegetarian to venison. One brand WeeBox can vouch for is Stahly Scotch Haggis and the good news is that they have distributors in North America for example, who you can order from direct. Take a keek at www.haggis.com for more information and a free downloadable haggis recipe book in response to the age old question ‘what do you do with it!?’ We are keen to build up a knowledge of haggis around the world, so do let us know where you get yours in the comments below.
The haggis should be served with neeps and tatties: a famous and glorious union. This fluffy serving of mashed potatoes and mashed turnips can also be served with a deliciously rich, whisky sauce and of course, a dram.
Finally, pudding is typically Scottish cranachan, a delicious fusion of whipped cream, toasted oats, honey and raspberries soaked in a dash (or more!) of whisky. Whisky or a robust red wine make a good accompaniment to your Burns Supper.
Other recitals on the evening include a speech commemorating Burns and a toast to the great man, known as the ‘Immortal Memory’. The ‘Address to the Lassies’ and of course ‘The Reply from the Lassies’ are a highlight and normally written especially for the evening. Each Burns Supper is individual, so have fun, add in other elements for your guests – a quiz, a treasure hunt – anything goes, we don’t think the Bard would mind!
Dress code for a Burns Supper can be a nod to tartan or the full traditional kilt outfit. Often a tartan scarf wrapped like a sash is effective but if you do want to get fully kilted up, our WeeBox friends at MacGregor & MacDuff www.macgregorandmacduff.co.uk can help! Just tell them WeeBox sent you….
The soundtrack to your evening could be anything from bagpipes to more modern Scottish music. Nevertheless, a rousing chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at the end of the night is a must.
And when the night is over, WeeBox has even thought of your morning after. Beat the dreaded hangover with the classic Scottish hangover cure and Scotland’s iconic national drink, Irn Bru. And what about a wee slice of toast and marmalade? Thanks to our friends at Pipsqueak Preserves, we bring you this delicious home-made marmalade from Glasgow.
So, from WeeBox HQ in Scotland, we wish you a wonderful Burns Night 2017! Slainte!