January 25, 2012

Tak A Cup O' Kindness

Robert Burns 
(Jan. 25, 1759 - Jul. 21, 1796)
Scots th' warld ower ur celebratin' Rabbie Burns Day the-day, wi' aw ay its weird, pure bonkers, fin wee traditions* (Translation: Scots the world over are celebrating Robbie Burns Day today with all of its weird, totally bonkers, fun little traditions). More on that in a moment.

The evening is a tribute to the life and poetry of Robert Burns (Jan. 25, 1759 - Jul. 21, 1796) also known in Scotland as "The Bard". Robbie Burns is the national poet of Scotland and some of his works will be familiar to you:

Auld Lang Syne
A Red, Red Rose
Ae Fond Kiss
among others

Burns Suppers are hosted all over the world in memory of this Scottish icon and begin with one of the weirdest traditions of them all:

Piping in the haggis** (marching the sucker in on a platter to the sound of bagpipes) and then the host reciting the Address to a Haggis, which goes like this:

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm...

You can read the rest of this address here.

A Burns Supper (following the whole haggis hullabaloo) also features a 'Toast to the Lassies', with a reply sometimes called a 'Toast to the Laddies', and a whole lot of lauding The Bard through recitation of his poetry and songs. Oh, and of course plenty of bagpipe and bodhrán playing. In short, a whole lot of fun, good music, and lots and lots of tartan (and good food if you like shepherd's pie, oat cakes, and *shudder* haggis).

In honour of Robbie Burns day, here's a little Celtic jam session at Foulis Castle in the Scottish Highlands with some pretty talented kids (how 'bout that kid on the pipes???). They call themselves Clacharan:

Zeeto the Bubbleman and the High Drive

The Soupdragon and Thunderhead

This is my favourite Robert Burns poem:

A Red, Red Rose

Oh my luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
Oh my luve is like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!

So Canty Rabbie Burns Day tae ye and 'slàinte maith, h-uile latha, na chi 'snach fhaic!'***
*For a good time, go to this site and throw some sentences into the Scottie translator.
**Haggis: a savoury pudding with sheep's heart, liver, and lungs minced with oatmeal, suet, onion, spices, and salt mixed with stock and stuffed in a stomach (though most haggis you buy now is in a casing and not a stomach) and simmered for three hours. Basically, it's a great big ball of gag-me-with-a-caber-or-spurtle. But hey, you might like it....
***'Good health, every day, whether I see you or not!' - a Gaelic blessing/farewell


  1. I love porridge. But that's about as much homage to my Ulster-Scots ancestry as I can manage. Do they do vegetarian haggis? :)

    Have a fun time tonight!

    1. Mmmm...porridge ('parritch' in Scots). The Scots are not known for their cuisine, and it's really no small wonder. Haggis, blood pudding...ick. I'm not sure if there's such a thing as vegetarian haggis. I'm sure you could stuff some veggie 'meat' into some kind of casing and call it haggis. We don't do the haggis thing anyway. Shepherd's pie is about as Scottish as our meal is going to get. Later there will be some Strongbow cider and shortbread, but that's it :-)

  2. The poem is beautiful! And sounds like the evening must be a lot of fun :D
    Are there a lot of Scottish descendants in Canada?

    1. There are tons of Scottish descendants in Canada :-) We have a whole province that is essentially named "New Scotland" (Nova Scotia). There are many Scots-Irish folk in the Maritimes which is the Eastern part of Canada. The evening turned out pretty fun too! The poem plays a part in my current WiP. Why? Because it's romantic and because Scots are beautiful :-)

  3. Wow, this makes me want to be back in Scotland! What a fun tradition!

    1. I know! Me too :-) The hubby and I are hoping to go in May (he's never been), so this all just makes me pretty excited.

  4. Ohhhhh... I LOVE ALL THINGS SCOTTISH!!!!! Serious. Spent 2 weeks in Nova Scotia a few years ago and it's still my favorite place on the planet. I'll get over to Scotland for sure some day. (And it also helps that the Outlander series is my FAV series EVER!!!!) *love*


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