The Burns Supper.
The Burns Supper is an important tradition for millions of people throughout the world who regularly celebrate their Scottish Heritage. From Ayrshire, the heart of "Burns Country", throughout Scotland, the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, Canada, Japan, Australia, Russia, North to South, East to West.......this is an experience to be savoured !.
The running order of a Traditional Burns Supper.
"Piping in" of the top table guests,
(if the event is of significant size) during which time, the audience stands and claps in time to the music whilst the guests enter the room in single file, and take their seats. When ready to be seated, the piper stops playing his bagpipes and the assembled crowd applauds the top table to welcome them.
The Chairman welcomes everyone and introduces the top table guests , speakers & entertainers.
Selkirk Grace (prayer before meal) :- A small, but none the less important part for someone to carry out, with a rendition of The Selkirk Grace.
"Piping in The Haggis":-
Chairman asks the guests to be upstanding to receive the Haggis. The piper (or to the accompaniment of appropriate music) leads a small procession comprising, the Chef, presenting the Haggis on a silver platter; the person who will "Address the Haggis"; and sometimes a third person carrying a tray with a "tot" of whisky for each in the procession to "toast" the Haggis. During the procession, the guests clap in time to the music until the Haggis reaches its destination at the table. The music stops and everyone is seated in anticipation of the Address to the Haggis !
The Address to the Haggis:- The appointed person now gives a resounding and animated recital of the Address to the Haggis. At the appropriate time (during the line "An cut you up wi ready slight" meaning "and cut you up with skill") the speaker takes his knife, and with a great flourish, cuts the length of the haggis, "trenching its gushing entrails" (digging its innards) in a visible and dramatic fashion. The recital concludes with the speaker presenting aloft the Haggis in triumphant praise during the final line "Gie her a Haggis!" (Give her a Haggis!) The assembled audience applaud.
Toast to the Haggis:- The Speaker now asks the audience to share in a toast to the Haggis. Everyone, including the other members of the procession stands and raises their glass to "The Haggis!" The Piper once again begins to play and leads the procession, bearing the "cut" Haggis, out of the room in readiness for the meal. Again the audience clap in time to the music until the procession has left.
The Meal:- The meal is now served (usually with appropriate background music).
The "Bill O Fare" (menu).
comprises "Cock-a-leekie" Soup,(an old Scottish recipe); The main course of "Haggis wi bashit neeps an' champit tatties" ( Haggis, mashed turnip/swede and mashed potatoes); Sweet course of "Clootie Dumplin" (Dumpling pudding prepared in a linen cloth or "cloot") or Scottish trifle; Final course of "Bannocks an Cheese" (Traditional Scottish Oatcakes and cheese board) finishing off with Coffee or Tea. Other variations exist and often the Haggis, Neeps an Tatties are served as a starter, with a main course of a Beef dish or Steak Pie. A custom has also developed where a "wee splash of Whisky Sauce", (which is straight whisky) is poured over the haggis giving it added flavour. Wine is often served with the meal and of course generous quantities of the finest Scottish malt whisky is consumed after the meal.
The Immortal Memory:-
The Chairman introduces the keynote speaker who delivers a passionate speech on the life of Robert Burns during which he might inform the audience of Burns's great contribution to literature, of his Nationalistic pride in Scotland, his politics & principles, his humanity, his failings and his triumphs. This speech is normally both witty & humorous yet delivered with serious content and comment in praise of Burns. The objective is to give a rounded and informed but positive appraisal of Robert Burns, Scotland's most famous Son, National Bard, and representative of Common Man. The speech concludes with an invitation to the audience to join the speaker and raise your glass to drink a toast to "The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns"
Toast to "The Lassies" :-
Always a very humorous part in the proceedings where a toast is proposed to "The Lassies" (Women) . The object of this toast is to deliver a speech about the importance of women in our lives, drawing reference to Burns, the women in his life, his attitudes and views on Women, and concluding on a complimentary and positive note. At "male only" celebrations, the content is often a bit more "pointed" than if it were "mixed company", exaggerating the male chauvinist view of women in a very funny way. During "mixed company" celebrations, this is clearly toned down a little, still humorous, but much more complimentary. Either way, the challenge is to deliver a balanced witty and sincere toast which concludes with the speaker inviting all the men of the company, to stand and raise their glasses in a toast "To the Lassies"
The "Reply" to the Toast to the Lassie
In mixed company, a woman will prose a suitable "reply" to the previous toast..…thanking the speaker on behalf of the women for his "kind" words! Again, this will be humorous, using reference to Robert Burns and the women in Burns's life. This is a chance for the women to "get their own back" on the men! Again, the challenge is to find a balance between humour and sincerity concluding on a suitably positive note.
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Who Was Robert Burns?
Robert Burns, or Rabbie as he is sometimes known, is a significant iconic figure in Scottish Culture and History and is also know as one of the worlds most famous poets.
Robert Burns was born at Alloway, near Ayr, on January 25, 1759. His father William was a gardener to the Provost of Ayr. Robert was educated briefly at John Murdoch's school in Alloway and later in Ayr.
Family financial worries forced Burns to work as a farm labourer, and it was while thus occupied that he met his first love, Nelly Kirkpatrick. She inspired him to try his hand at poetry, a song entitled "O, once I lov'd a bonnie lass", set to the tune of a traditional reel.
Burns worked at a succession of labouring jobs, including flax dressing, and began writing poetry regularly. When his father died in 1784, Burns and his brother Gilbert rented a farm near Mauchline.
Burns spread his affections freely, and the next decade saw 8 illegitimate children born to him through 5 different women. One of these, Jean Armour, became Mrs. Burns in 1788.
The first published work of poetry by Robert Burns was "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" which saw the light of day on 31 July 1786. This collection of verse contained many of Burn's best works, including "To a Mouse", and "The Holy Fair".
The success of "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" convinced Burns to abandon plans to emigrate to Jamaica. Buoyed by his burgeoning reputation as an unschooled "ploughman poet", Burns moved to Edinburgh and became part of the thriving cultural scene there.
He was unable to find a patron to support his writing, but publisher James Johnson gave him work editing a collection of Scottish folk songs. This work, titled "The Scots Musical Museum", was published in 5 volumes over sixteen years. Burns himself contributed over 150 songs, including "Auld Lang Syne", a reworking of an earlier folk song of unknown origin.
Burns and his wife Jean moved to Mauchline, where in 1790 he produced "Tam o' Shanter", which was first published merely as an accompaniment to an illustration of Alloway Kirk, in a volume of "Antiquities of Scotland". The growing Burns family moved again, this time to Dumfries.
Burns contributed 114 songs to "A Select Collection Of Scottish Airs" by George Thomson, but he received very little payment for his efforts. In 1795, Burns was inspired by the events of the French Revolution to write "For a' that and a' that", his cry for human equality.
One year later, on July 21, 1796, Burns was dead of rheumatic fever. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Michael's in Dumfries, even as his wife Jean was in childbirth with their ninth child.
Robert Burns gained more fame after his death than he ever did during his lifetime. Many of his songs and poems have become international favourites - even among those who find his use of Scottish lowland dialect difficult to decipher.
The Selkirk Grace.
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
Address To A Haggis.
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thrissle.
Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!
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