1. Who was Robert Burns?
2. Why is Burns Night celebrated?
3. Why the fuss about haggis on Burns
4. What's the difference between a turnip and a
5. Is there a world record for the size of a Burns
6. Are Burns Suppers organised outside the
7. Can anyone organise a Burns Supper?
8. Where can I find The Immortal Memory?
9. Where do I find out more about Robert Burns and
was Robert Burns?
Robert (or Rabbie) Burns is widely regarded as Scotland's national
poet. He was born in Alloway, Ayrshire on 25th January 1759
and died in Dumfries on 21st July 1796. He is known worldwide for
his poetry written in the Scots language, although he also wrote in
English. His most notable works include 'Auld Lang Syne', 'Ae Fond
Kiss', 'Tam O'Shanter', 'A Man's A Man for A' That' and, of course,
'To A Haggis'. He grew up in a poor farming family and, after
a time spent in Edinburgh, returned to farm near Dumfries before
taking up a post as a Gauger or 'exciseman', all the while writing
and collecting folk songs. He died at the age of 37, probably due
to a rheumatic heart condition.
2. Why is Burns
Burns Night is a celebration of the life and works of Robert
Burns. The first suppers were organised by the poet's friends, on
the anniversary of his death. The first Burns Club, founded
in Greenock in 1801 by Ayrshire merchants, held their first Burns
Supper on the anniversary of his birth in January 1802. This is the
tradition that survives. Today, Burns Suppers are held throughout
the world on or around the 25th January.
3. Why the fuss
about haggis on Burns Night?
Burns' life and works can be celebrated in any way possible,
although the traditional format is well established. His poem, 'To
a Haggis' was crafted in 1786 during his first visit to Edinburgh
and was originally improvised as a tongue-in-cheek, mock-heroic
moment during a meal at a friend's house. It is unlikely that Burns
could have realised the far-reaching consequences of that occasion.
Although by no means his finest poem, it nonetheless established
haggis as Scotland's national dish and secured its place as the
centrepiece of every Burns Supper.
4. What's the
difference between a turnip and a swede?
It depends whether you are Scottish or English. In Scotland, a
turnip (or 'neep') is a 'brassica rapa' or Swedish Turnip, so
called because King Gustav III of Sweden gave some seeds to a
patron and friend of Robert Burns. The same vegetable is called a
swede in England, and is not to be confused with what the English
call a turnip, which is much smaller and paler in colour.
5. Is there a
world record for the size of a Burns Supper?
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns birth in 2009,
more than 3,900 Burns Suppers in more than 80 countries were joined
together to make the 'The World Famous Burns Supper'
6. Are Burns
Suppers organised outside the UK?
Burns Suppers are popular throughout the world. Many are organised
by Burns Societies in the USA and Canada, where some 8 million
people claim Scottish descent. In Russia, Burns is known as the
'people's poet' and the first translation of his works sold over
600,000 copies in 1924. The former Soviet Union was the first
country to honour Burns with a commemorative stamp in 1956.
7. Can anyone
organise a Burns Supper?
Yes - the more the merrier! It doesn't have to be a grand formal
affair or follow the traditional format. It may be an
intimate family gathering or a celebration with friends. Any
combination of Burns' poetry, songs and drink will work. You do not
have to be traditional in the choice of food, although haggis must
of course be the centrepiece. The great news is that Macsween makes
all kinds of haggis for any number of people, from single servings
to the ceremonial Chieftain. For a Burns supper on the hoof, try
our microwaveable traditional or vegetarian haggis - they are ready
in just 60 seconds!
8. Where can I
find The Immortal Memory?
Contrary to some people's expectations, this is not a Burns poem
but a speech specially written for the occasion. So if you've
volunteered for this part of a Burns supper then you have a bit of
work to do! But don't panic - it's just like a best man's speech
that tells of Burns' character and achievements in an affectionate
and entertaining way. You should be able to get some inspiration
and ideas by having a look on the internet.
9. Where do I find
out more about Robert Burns and his suppers?
The best way is to come to Scotland and follow the Burns Trail
through Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire. You can visit his birthplace,
and the places where he lived and worked. There is also a new
state-of-the-art museum dedicated to Robert Burns and his legacy.
You can also find information using the countless books and