Expand Your UK IQ: Writer’s feast
January 29, 2009
Haggis and a little "Auld Lang Syne" anyone?
They’re the key components to a Burns Supper, an annual gathering to celebrate the life and work of 18th-century Scottish poet Robert Burns. Among his most famous works is "Auld Lang Syne," which is traditionally sung on New Year’s Eve.
To celebrate his life and work, Burns Suppers have been held on Jan. 25 since the poet’s death in 1796. Ranging from informal gatherings of friends to huge formal dinners full of pomp and circumstance, the events take place throughout Scotland, though people around the world also hold the gatherings, according to the British Broadcasting Corp.
The dinner starts off with bagpipe music to welcome guests, followed by a greeting from the "chairman." Then comes the Selkirk Grace, a short prayer read — usually in Scottish — before the meal, according to the BBC’s Web site dedicated to planning one of the annual suppers.
Guests then normally stand to welcome the dinner’s main attraction — the haggis. More piping is heard while the organ-meat sausage makes its way to the table. Then comes recitation of the Burns poem "Address to a Haggis," followed by a toast to the haggis, according to the BBC. Other traditional Scottish dishes such as cock-a-leekie soup and clootie dumpling are also served at Burns Suppers.
Then comes the reading of Burns’ works. The keynote speaker follows by speaking on the life of Burns, with particular note paid to his nationalism. The oration is supposed to glide the fine line between serious intent and sparkling wit to paint the picture of Scotland’s "favorite son," according to the BBC.