What is Burns Night?
Burns Night is an annual tribute to the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. It was originally organised by his close friends and family after he died as a memorial, but it is now a country wide event that people hold themselves, with traditional Scottish food, music and Burn’s works.
Who is Robert Burns?
The poet, also known as Rabbie Burns, is famous for his creative literary works and wrote more than 550 poems and songs before his death in 1796, at the age of 37 after suffering from rheumatic fever. Some of his most well-known works include “A Red Red Rose” and “A Man’s a Man for A’ That”.
He was born in 1759 in Alloway in the west of Scotland and his works strongly focused on political issues that he passionately cared about, which made him an iconic Scot, standing for his liberal views. He was also strongly inspired by the Scottish scenery, including Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway.
When is Burns Night?
Burns night falls on January 25th every year, which is the birthday of the Scottish Bard. Many restaurants in Scotland and around the world honour the traditional celebration with themed evenings.
Why do we celebrate it?
Robert Burns is Scotland’s national poet and considered a revolutionary figure of Scotland. Almost 200 years have passed since his death but people still enjoy celebrating him and all things Scottish, where true Scots don their family tartan.
The 10 Best Scotch whiskies
The 10 Best Scotch whiskies
1. Talisker aged 18 years
Talisker is fiery stuff that tastes like it's been made by the sea, and with good reason. It's the only distillery on the Isle of Skye and sits right on the beach of Loch Harport.
2. Lagavulin aged 16 years
After a glass or two of this you'll feel as though you've been drinking a whisky-fuelled bonfire on a beach. Its rich and peaty notes blend perfectly with a peppery smokiness.
3. Bruichladdich The Laddie Ten
Ré;my Cointreau bought this Hebri- dean distillery last year and its unpeated Laddie Ten is a perfect antidote to the usual Islay spirits.
4. Laphroaig 10 years old
Laphroaig has a full body and a fearsome reputation but it's surprisingly sweet with hints of salt and layers of peatiness in this 10-year-old vintage.
5. Ledaig aged 10 years
From Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, this whisky is a truly medicinal tipple. Sweet and peaty on the nose, it has a rounded and smoky favour with a long, peppery finish.
6. Macallan Gold
James Bond drinks this stuff so it must be good. Right? Regardless of the product placement, this gets a hearty recommendation for its sweet molasses taste.
7. Old Pulteney aged 12 years
This distillery in Wick turns out excellent whiskies. Perfect with seafood, it has a complex nose of green apples and spices.
8. Glenlivet Founders Reserve
The latest expression from Glenlivet, which replaces its 12-year-old and is aimed at paying tribute to the distillery's founder George Smith. Just like the earliest bottles from Glenlivet, there are no age statements, meaning it can be pulled from different aged casks. A smooth and fruity dram with a hint of sweetness.
9. Dalwhinnie 15 years old
Dalwhinnie's distillery is the highest in Scotland. It turns out a balanced malt with a sherry character and just a hint of silky honey and Highland heather.
10. Caol Ila aged 12 years
Fresh and sweet Caol Ila is a straw-coloured Islay whisky for the drinker who likes complex flavours. It has a fruity nose of clean, crisp flavours before a salty and a peaty kick.
What do we do on Burns Night?
On Burn’s night, people celebrate with a traditional Burns supper. The centrepiece of Burns supper is haggis, which the poet describes as the “great chieftain o’ thepuddin-‘race” and is made from sheep heart, liver and lungs, prepared in the stomach lining and mashed neeps and tatties (turnips, swedes and potatoes. It begins with the host reading “Address to Haggis”, an ode Burns himself wrote.
As well as traditional Scottish food, the night is not complete without whisky. A wee dram of malt or blends goes down well on the night. People also sing Auld Lang Syne, which is also sung at New Year’s Eve, wear tartan and enjoy the bagpipes and recitals of his songs and poems.
Robert Burn’s Facts
The oldest statue of the poet is thought to be in Camperdown, eastern Australia. Sculpture John Greenshileds created it in the 1850s.
His poem “A Red, Red Rose” was apparently Bob Dylan’s greatest creative inspiration,
His poetry has even orbited Earth after astronaut Nick Patrick took a book of his into space in 2010 on a two week space mission.
Michael Jackson is said to have been inspired by Robert Burn’s work.
John Steinback’s novel Of Mice and Men takes its name from a line of Burn’s poetry in “To a Mous”, which read “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’men/ Gang aft agley”.
The 160th anniversary of his death in 1956 was commemorated with a stamp by the Soviet Union, who were the first country in the world to do so.