You may follow the traditional format or make up your own - it's
entirely up to you...as long as Macsween haggis is involved, of
course. The formal version of a Burns Supper is well worth
experiencing, whether you are a haggis virgin or experienced lover
of the iconic dish.
If you are to organise or attend a formal Burns Supper, the
following are the main attractions:
Enter the Haggis!
The host welcomes all guests with an Opening Address and
The chef follows the piper to the top table carrying the haggis,
after which the host or a guest recites 'To a Haggis'. This is best done with great
theatre, especially the blood-curdling line, "An cut you up wi'
ready slight", when the haggis is stabbed with a sharp knife. At
the end of the recitation, everyone gets to their feet and toasts
the haggis. Slainte Mhath!
Next, the main event - the haggis is served. Once the meal
is finished, the celebration gets fully underway.
The Immortal Memory is a short, lively and irreverent speech about
Burns. There is no fixed format for this - you have to write your
own! 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. It ends, not surprisingly, with more toasting and
more consumption of whisky.
Lads and Lassies
The laddishness continues with an address to the female guests,
which is sometimes a little bit cheeky but always respectful. Yet
another toast: 'Tae the Lassies!'
The 'Reply Fae the Lassies" is the ladies' chance to get their own
back and burst the gentlemen's testosterone-fuelled balloon with
their own witty and irreverent response.
The rest of the evening consists of music and more poems, and
there is often Scottish country dancing. The evening always ends
with everyone joining hands to sing 'Auld Lang Syne'.