What is Burns Night?
Burns night is one of the biggest days of the year in Scotland, with families and friends gathering together to celebrate on the 25th of January. Today we’ll cover who Robbie Burns was, the history of Burns night and how to celebrate it, traditionally and in modern times.


Who was Robbie Burns?


Robbie Burns, born on January 25th, 1759, is the national poet of Scotland. His poems and songs were so popular and loved within Scotland; January 25th was deemed Burns Night in his memory.


Burns was born in the village of Alloway, to a family of tenant farmers. Burns found a love for poetry and literature early on in life, and decided to dedicate his career towards this instead of farming.


Through his romantic poetry and writing, he became a pioneer of Scottish literature, which is still studied and celebrated today. Burns died at only 37 in Dumfries from a long-standing heart condition. He left behind a massive legacy and has continued to influence and inspire Scottish culture hundreds of years later.


How did Burns Night Begin?


Burns night kicked off in 1801 when Burn’s close friends gathered to mark the fifth anniversary of his passing. A supper was arranged, where haggis neeps and tatties were cooked and Burn’s work was preformed and recited.


A famous speech was given named as The Immortal Memory, which in itself has become a famous tradition as part of Burns night.


What Happens at a Burns Supper?


Burns night surrounds a burns supper, where families and friends gather to enjoy Scottish foods and appreciate Burns literature. Traditionally, the supper follows this order.


Everyone gathers at the table, and the host welcomes everyone and Selkirk Grace is said.


The starter of Haggis is served, bagpipes are played and the host recites the famous Burns poem, Address to a Haggis. Everyone toasts the haggis and the rest of the meal is enjoyed.


After the meal, Burns poems are recited, the Immortal Memory is performed, and drinks are toasted to the poet.


To end the night, Auld Lang Syne is sang, with arms crossed and more drinks toasted.


Usually a lot of whisky is served.


Burns Night in Modern Times


Today, thousands of “Burns clubs and societies” exist around the world, and many traditionally gather on the 25th. Whether or not Burns is still recited in such uniformed manner, the whole of Scotland still pays respect to the poet in some way or another.


And this is not just limited to Scotland. As Scots have immigrated and shared their culture around the world, burns night can be seen celebrated worldwide, especially in places Scots were known to immigrate to like Canada or America.


Many people now add their own twists to the dinners, perhaps the bagpipes aren’t brought out every year, and more variety of food is served, but the legacy of Burns is always well respected and recited.


Thinking of hosting your own Burns Night?


Here are some essentials we stock that are perfect for hosting a burns supper. We are currently running 15% off sitewide until Sunday midnight. Use the code BURNS22 at checkout.