Burns Night

The 25th of January marks the annual celebration of Burns Night. The night celebrates the life of Scotland’s most respected and admired poet. Known as Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns was born in Alloway on the 25th of January 1759 to two farming parents. Disinterested in the hard and demanding farming life, Robert threw himself into the world of poetry. He was inspired by fellow writers such as Henry Mackenzie and Alexander Pope but also his own upbringing and romantic life. His first piece of work was ‘Handsome Nell’ which was thought to be dedicated to a farm servant named Nellie Kilpatrick who Robert knew and fancied in his teen years.

Taken from free-images.com

Following his debut, Burns would go on to write the classic ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and other notable works such as ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That’, ‘Address To Haggis’ and ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night’. Within years of his breakout success, Robert had squandered most of his wealth and was forced to pursue alternative work in order to support himself and his family. In 1789, he began work as an Excise Officer in Dumfries.  The demands of this job combined with his boisterous lifestyle from years before took a toll on his health. Robert died on 21st July 1796 aged 37, survived by his wife and children. Robert would be later buried with civil and military honours.

How Burns Night Began:

Burns Night began in 1801 when Burns’ friends came together to mark the fifth anniversary of his death. During the night, Robert’s friends shared a meal of haggis, read his work and gave a speech in his memory. The success and customs of the first Burns Night were established in the yearly tradition which is still honoured to the present day.

How Burns Night is celebrated:

Whilst the celebration of Burns Night now varies among fans, most tend to follow this typical order:

  • The night begins with the prayer of Selkirk Grace
  • Traditional Scottish meals such as haggis, tatties and neeps are served
  • Following the dinner, Burn’s songs and poems are read and performed
  • The night is closed with the singing of Auld Lang Syne and a round of toasts and thanks

Around and on Burns Night, the local Wetherspoons will be offering Burns Night dinners so make sure to stop by and pop in!

Additional Fun Facts:

  • Inspired JD Salinger’s 1951 novel ‘Catcher In The Rye’ with his poem ‘Comin’ Thro’ the Rye’
  • His poem A Man’s A Man For A’ That’ was used to introduce Scotland’s new Parliament in 1999 due to its themes of equality and community
  • In 2009, he became the first person to have a commemorative Coco Cola bottle
  • Auld Lang Syne is recognised by the Guinness World Records as one of the most popular songs in the entire English language
  • One of Robert’s biggest fans was American President Abraham Lincoln

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