Burns Night

Jan 14th, 2009, 12:20 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9,323
Burns Night

Has anyone ever been to a Burns night? I'm going to one in Zürich (Switzerland, not Scotland) and was wondering what is in store for me. There's a Ceildh afterwards which involves kilts and dancing.

kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 12:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,652
On Burns night remember to say good night Gracie.

maitaitom is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,759
I have been to a number (even hosted one) here in Canada.

There are many web sites that will tell you all about the "Ode to the Haggis" (that special sweetbreads, oatmeal and cow's stomach concoction you will either love or hate).

There are other recipes for the evening and more about Robbie Burns himself as well as instructions on piping in that haggis.

There is a traditional grace that is both moving and pragmatic...I paraphrase as fake Scots dialects are a dreadful thing (my Nana, an Aberdonian could say it as if the great poet himself)was present.

"There's them has meat
And cannot eat
There's them haven't
And want it...
But we have meat
And we can eat
And so the Lord be thanked."

Go with an open mind and an appetite!
LJ is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 12:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8,351
It's a sheep's stomach not a cow's. Haggis is delicious

I knew there was a Zurich in Friesland but I've never heard of one on Scotland
hetismij is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 02:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,509
Hi Schuler---I went to a smallish one here in Washington (Bainbridge Island). It was a lot of fun. They raised the haggis for the salute, and we all danced around. (I didn't try eating any, though). There were poety recitations and lots of opportunity to drink a wee dram.

I don't know if there's a rigid format for the proceedings; they might all be different.
enzian is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 04:53 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 3,605
Here's an outline of what will happen and depending on the amount of drink it should go something like this:


I'm Scottish, albeit living in the US and vegetarian, but I think they're lots of fun.

Here's an account from Sheila from last year--hopefully she'll see this tomorrow and post more.

Author: sheila ([email protected])
Date: 01/29/2007, 03:31 pm
Apologies to those who've seen this elsewhere.

It's really difficult to explain how Burn's Night sits in Scots culture. It's not a holiday or a national celebration or anything. I suspect that apart from a few die-hard Burns Society people, it's really just another excuse for a hoolie.

And they're very often not held on Burn's Night, if it's a school night.

So, I got a last minute invitation to the Udny Green (local village) Burn's Supper on Friday past. And very good it was too. It was freezing but the hall was warm- possibly too warm- see below.

It was set up with a bar in one corner, and 6 long tables running the length of the hall. Everyone was given a drammie or a sherry to do the toasts with. The top table was on the stage, and comprised the local doctor, who was to toast the haggis, someone's wife- I never yet found out whose, a national broadcaster who lives locally who was to toast the immortal memory, another wife, the Chairman, who is local and is a consultant urological surgeon, the wife of the guy toasting the Lasses, Willy Rennie, a local lorry driver who was to toast the Lasses, and the head teacher of a nearby school- she's from Orkney- who was to reply for the Lasses.

So, the top table was piped in then we had our very nice vegetable broth; then the haggis was piped in- it's traditional for the music to be the tune of "A Man's a Man for a' That". The haggis is carried by someone in a chef's outfit called Poosie Nancy. The piper and Poosie Nancy are both given a dram.

Then Dr Bell toasted the haggis "Fair fa' yer honest sonsie face" and all that. Lost the plot a couple of times, but none the waur o' that.

Then we ate, and drank a bit, then Mark Stepehn toasted the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns. It was without a doubt, the best I've ever heard. It's usually a bit about Burn's life, his poetry and his womanising, and can be very maudlin. This guy got it spot on.

Then Willie Rennie got up, bleezin' fu', to Toast the Lasses. He was very funny, even when he didn't mean to be

I could see a guy down the table, the husband of an old friend, leaning his head on the table. And as Alison Spence got up to speak, this chap's wife and folk round about him were looking very concerned. Dr Bell was keeping a weather eye, and the guy did not look good. Just as Alison Bell got up to reply, Dr Bell got up and came down from the stage, and the guy fell unconscious. What you need to know is that 7 years ago, the chap toasting the Immortal Memory at the same Burn's Supper, got up to speak, and fell down dead of a heart attack. So a heap of folk on Fridaywere terrified. Tears everywhere, some people left, lots of concern.

But the bloke woke up (I actually think Dr Bell resusciatated him- the local nurse said when she got there the bloke had no pulse), and we waited for an ambulance- 30 minutes- we're in the sticks here- and they made him comfortable, strapped him on- his face was as gray as an old fish- and wheeled him away.

Then we finished the speeches!! Actually, the Chairman was excellent. He cracked some awful jokes, warmed the audience up again- and I guess the drink helped- and off Alison went.

There was dancing till 1pm, but I bailed when the speeches were over.

The good news is the guy's home. They have no idea what happened to him

mvor is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 11:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Blast, I just posted a long message and it disappeared.

Anyway, the good news is that the guy lived happily ever after. Scarey moment, tho'.

So, what you can expect is something like this.

The meal will start with the Selkirk Grace- a version of which is printed above.

If there's soup it will now be served- usually Scotch Broth or Cockaleekie

If not, then you will start with...

Poosie Nancy (the chef, not the outfit- appalling grammar above, Mrs R!) will carry in the haggis, accompanied by a piper, piping. Both will be given a dram, often in a quaich.

Someone will give the Address to the Haggis, by reciting the Burns poem of that name.

The main course is haggis neeps and tatties. Usually there is veggie haggis too, these days.

The pudding is usually trifle.

Then there's a dram, then someone toasts the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns.

Then there's a toast to the Lassies.

Then a lady replies.

There may be more toasts, but they are optional.

There may be entertainment.

There will then be dancing.

If you are not wearing a kilt, smart casual is OK normally, unless it's very posh, but if it's very posh, it'll likely be black tie.

The twist is that this year is the 250th anniversary of Burns birth, and it's a BIG deal.
sheila is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 01:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9,323
Thanks Sheila. It sounds...ummmm... interesting. Definitely a cultural experience. Here's what the organiser personally wrote me when I asked him about the length of the evening:

"Last year, some guests were there until past 2AM. One of them, Martin, a Swiss friend, and fanatical Scots fan, is Manager of Big Ben Pub in Niederdorf. After we had all sorted the kitchen, we adjourned to there, and some later to the Gräbli bar. Notorious for the dawn chorus drinking crowd.
Martin reads the Swiss German "Address to the Haggis" too."

Sounds like it will be a Swiss/Scottish evening. The invitation definitely stressed the 250th anniversary.

I'll write a brief report about my experience.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 02:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,717
I hope you'll be in a position to remember it, schuler. Or maybe not...
PatrickLondon is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:03 AM.