The Full English Exposé teaches you more about the English speaking world, so you can be confident you know what you are doing, and you don’t do or say the wrong thing, and don’t get egg on your face.
This edition of the podcast we’re helping make sure you don’t get egg on your face, with the Full English Exposé, all about Burns’ Night.
For the hard version, click here.
Why are we celebrating?
Burns Night is celebrated on January the 25th, the birthday of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet. For over 200 years, both in Scotland and abroad, people have hosted ‘Burns Suppers’ to celebrate his life and works.
Burns wrote hundreds of poems and songs. He wrote about his experiences of living in a poor household and about everyday occurrences. He wrote for ordinary Scottish people, who didn’t all speak English, and so he often wrote in the Scots language.
Later he wrote poems and protested against the power of the wealthy over the poor.
He was also famed for being a womanizer, fathering 12 children by 4 women. He died in 1796 at the age of just 37.
How do we celebrate?
A typical Burns Supper might start with a short grace to say thank you for the meal, usually this is the ‘Selkirk Grace’, which is written in the Scots language. Afterwards a traditional Scottish starter is served. This is followed by the haggis, a large Scottish sausage. The haggis is ‘piped in’, it is brought into the room to music, often played on bagpipes. Then someone recites Burns’ famous poem about haggis, the ‘Address to the Haggis’ and the haggis is then eaten with ‘whisky sauce’, which is just another word for whisky. Throughout the evening a lot of time will be spent drinking whisky. More courses may be served and after that there may be Scottish puddings and a cheese course.
After coffee a speech is made about Burns. This speech is finished by asking the audience to stand up and drink a toast to the ‘Immortal Memory of Robert Burns’. Then, one of the men gives a light-hearted, funny speech praising the women, known as the ‘toast to the lassies’, and one of the women will reply to this and praise the men, with the ‘reply to the toast to the lassies’ or the ‘toast to the laddies’.
Burns’ poetry and songs, or those inspired by Burns, may be heard at any time during the night. There may also be Scottish Country Dancing, and you might also stand and hold hands to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
Everyone must go to at least one Burns Supper, the evening will be one of the best you’ll ever have, even though the morning after will be one of the worst.
Easy Burns Notes:
Address – a formal speech given to an audience.
Toast – a request for people to raise their glasses and drink together in honour of something, also the speech that is made before the toast.
Light-hearted – not serious.
Auld Lang Syne – this roughly means ‘days gone by’, it is a song that Burns wrote, based on a much older song, that reminds listeners to remember old friends.