02 Jan Burns Night: Where does it come from, what is it, and where to stay.

Burns Night is an annual event celebrated on the 25th of January throughout Scotland and even farther afield by Scots not living in their homeland. Burns Night remembers the exemplary poetry and national spirit of the iconic Scottish figure, Robert Burns.

Where did Burns Night come from and who is Robert Burns?

Robert Burns, also known as Rabbie Burns, was born in the small town of Alloway on the west coast of Scotland on the 25th of January, 1759. He had a rural upbringing, working on a farm, spending his spare time reading poetry and writing his own poems. His early love ballads evolved into later poems that addressed more political and civil issues. Robert Burns is often referred to as the pioneer of the Romantic Movement due to the vast amount of love poems he wrote. One of Burns’ most recognised pieces is “Auld Lang Syne”, a song played during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Scotland and often in the rest of the UK too. On the 21st of July 1796, Burns passed away at his home in Dumfries at the age of 37. The first Burns Night was held on the anniversary of his death, by his friends and family wanting to remember his extraordinary work and life. Later in history, the date of this annual supper was changed to the 25th of January, Burns’ birthday. This day now celebrates the great legacy he has left.

What is Burns Night?

Burns Night suppers can often vary from small casual gatherings to large formal dinners with friends and family; however there are a few traditions that always remain the same. Burns Night usually follows this running order.

The evening starts off with guests being welcomed into the venue by someone playing the bagpipes. Male guests will often be dressed in their tartan kilt and female guests in dresses with a tartan sash or just a touch of tartan on them. The host of the dinner welcomes everyone and asks them to take their seats. The Selkirk Grace, an important prayer written by Robert Burns is then read before the meal can commence.

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it

But we hae meat and we can eat,

And sae the Lord be thankit.

After the traditional first course of cock-a-leekie soup is finished it’s time for the main meal and what everyone has been waiting for. The haggis is piped into the room carried by the chosen guest speaker on a silver platter. It is then time to address the haggis, the honoured speaker then recites ‘Ode to a Haggis’ an iconic piece written by Burns to show his appreciation for Haggis.  This is an entertaining and unique poem, unlike any you may have seen. The whole room then raises a glass and joins in with the toast by shouting: “The haggis!” It is then time for the main course of haggis, neeps (turnip) and tatties (potato), the iconic meal served at every Burns Night.  For dessert, it’s usually a Typsy Laird, a trifle-like pudding followed by a cheese board with oatcakes. The rest of the evening is then filled with traditional Ceilidh dancing and poem readings. The evening is brought to an end by Auld Lang Syne playing; everyone gathers in a circle and joins hands and sings Burns’ most iconic piece.

Where to stay in Scotland?

Across the whole of Scotland, there are many Burns Night celebrations that take place, from ceilidhs to poetry readings to classical dinners. If you are taking a trip to this beautiful country, it is difficult to miss out on the celebrations. Edinburgh and Glasgow are no different and host a variety of celebrations for the annual event. Here are a few of our recommendations of where to stay when visiting.

Distillers House

This beautiful period building provides serviced apartments in the west end of Edinburgh. These apartments are equipped with beautiful furnishings and are close to a variety of local amenities, a great place to stay on your trip to the capital.

The Spires Edinburgh

These bright and spacious apartments provide guests with a tranquil and luxurious base in the heart of Edinburgh’s city centre, just a short distance from the city’s main shopping streets. These apartments are perfect for both short-stay and long-stay guests.

Premier Suites Plus Glasgow

Premier Suites Plus Glasgow provide sophisticated serviced apartments in an idyllic location in the centre of Glasgow, with everything guests will need right on their doorstep. All these apartments are spacious and modern with a stylish décor.

Native Glasgow Apartments 

Based in central Glasgow, these apartments draw on the opulence of a 1920s ocean liner. Desirably located close to many of the city’s most iconic attractions and landmarks, it is a great place to stay on a break to the city.

Rachel Potts

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