Burns Night

Burns Night is a celebration of the life and poetry of Robert Burns (1759-1796), one of the most prolific poets to hail from Scotland.  They are principally held on or around the 25 January each year as it was Rabbie's birthday, however can actually be held at any time and are in truth a celebration of all things Scottish, including the Bagpipes!

General Format

  • Piping in the guests - A piper greets your guests as the gather and mix at the drinks reception.
  • Welcome speech - The host says a few words welcoming everyone and asking them to be seated.
  • Selkirk Grace
  • Soup course - Usually the meal starts with a Scottish soup such as Scotch Broth, cullen skink or cock-a-leekie.
  • Piping in the haggis - Everyone stands as the cook brings in the haggis led by a piper playing "A Man's A Man for A' That".
  • Address to a Haggis - The host or chief guest recites the Address - the more theatrical the better!  At the end, a toast of whisky is proposed to the haggis and the pipers leads the exit. 
  • Rest of the meal
  • Toasts
    • Immortal Memory - The main speaker remembers some aspects of Burns' life or poetry, either light hearted or serious and a toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns follows.
    • Address to the Lassies - Usually an amusing, non offensive and wide-ranging address that covers the male speaker's view on women finishing with a toast by the men present to the women's health.
    • Reply to the Laddies - Like the previous toast, it should be a humorous, non offensive and wide-ranging retort that covers the female speaker's views on men finishing with a toast by the women present to the men's health.  Quite often the male and female speaker will collaborate so that the toasts complement each other.
  • Works by Burns - After the speeches there may be singing of Burns' songs, recitations of his poetry and maybe even a ceilidh!
  • Closing - At the end of any formal activities, the host will give a vote of thanks to everyone involved and ask all guests to stand, join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne.