Thursday, 26 January 2012


RDG asked what a 'Burns Supper' was. I thought I would quickly inform you to please her and avoid going out in the rain.  Rain is something to avoid when there are holes in the shoes.  Many years ago some fans of Robert Burns, indeed some people who had in fact known him, devised a 'supper' where they could remember him and toast his memory.  This is not a new fad, the Romans did this in the catacombs to remember their dead, and indeed Christians do the same in most churches. Since that time it developed rapidly in Scotland the idea of getting together on the long, cold winters night to remember Scotland's favourite Bard and eat and drink, in some cases mostly drink!  

Basically a Haggis is brought in, following a Piper in more formal settings, and a member of the congregation will read, or quote from memory, Burns ode, 'Address to a Haggis!'  

"Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!"   

Then the pudding is toasted with whisky and served with 'neeps and tatties,' (Mashed turnip and potatoes.) As Burns himself died in 1796 few people today actually met him. However a speech in his 'Immortal Memory' recording some of Burns doings will be made by a knowledgeable member of the assembly, usually amusing, usually short enough to stop the locals finishing the whisky too early.  Toasts will be made to the cook, the piper, various members of the dining fraternity and readings of Burns massive output of poems will be given, and possibly his many songs sung. 

A good time is had by all, and the local constabulary will arrive to remove the bodies in the wee small hours.

There is a lot to admire in Robert Burns.  Hard working farmer as well as a born poet, almost self educated, popular with the ladies, yet not to keen on the 'literati set' in Edinburgh, though he got on well with the ladies!  After his time in Edinburgh he returned to the farm but times were hard so he became an exciseman possibly with the idea of 'set a thief to catch a thief!  Smuggling being popular work in those days. We were told as kids that he died from overwork on the farm.  However it is also alleged that while his health was failing, and his lifestyle possibly catching up with him, he fell asleep on the grass verge in the rain while heading home from the pub and woke up 'deid!  Take your pick as to what you believe!



Jenny Woolf said...

I approve of any excuse to get together with friends to eat and drink specially in winter. I was pleased to hear the music of Sweet Afton - believe it or not I had only ever heard it before on a mechanical piano barrel organ thing which sounded horrible! The version you linked to was much nicer. - nice images too. Too long since I've been to Scotlamd really,

Relax Max said...

First, let me again thank you for the clever and helpful way you name your posts. The way you do it, it keeps all the losers who are googling for Robert Burns away from your site, and attracts only the smart ones who are trying to find out what the day of the week it is. You do this often enough that I just had to compliment you on your slyness. After all no one wants to answer dozens of comments and have their writing exposed to hundreds of total strangers.

Secondly... well, there really is no secondly today. I did scan your post well enough to understand it is about someone's burned supper. Then you mentioned tatties and that haggis thing again. Mouth-watering? Boy of boy, I'll say. Especially with a lot of whiskey, eh? A couple of pounds of rather raw intestines mixed with a quart of raw cheap whiskey and -- Zowie! - Lupe bring the bucket, and double quick. Well.

Wasn't it Bobby Burns who wrote that long 9-inch poem to sing during the haggis course? Or was that the other Scottish poet, the Scot Scott? I don't think so. Please talk about that fine poem in your next post if at all possible.

You say we have a choice as to how Rabbie Babbie Bobbie bought it? Well, I choose him falling on the grass drunk next to sweet Afton, a ribald tune on his smiling-yet-defiant lips, and them finding him in the morning with his head submerged and a bottle of Jack Daniels clutched in his rigid fist. I figure he went out like a man, whatever way it really was.

So, a sincere toast to Rabbie and to sweet Afton. May his immortal poetry be remembered forever: "Hark! what light through yonder window breaks?"

Another stellar job here.

red dirt girl said...

Why this is such a sweet surprise, Adullamite. I've learned many new things here tonight: a Burns Night, the courses served, what haggis is (i must confess it isn't too appetizing); a bit of Burns poetry and one of my favorite bluegrass bands, Nickel Creek singing Sweet Afton. All in all a rather pleasant way to end my long day.

Thank you kind sir for answering my ignorant question.


Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

It sounds like you really miss your old friend, which is commendable. (Just in case you are having trouble connecting the dots again, my comment is in reference to: As Burns himself died in 1796 few people today actually met him.)

Adullamite said...

Jenny, I am not sure your editor would wish a Scotland journey at the moment. maybe in summer perhaps.

Max, I forgot to amend it right! Nag Nag Nag! And whisky is spelt whisky!

RDG, Your questions are never ignorant dear.

Jerry, Let me think about that....