Burns Night - when, what and why?

Burns Night

Burns Night is celebrated on the 25th of January every year to mark the birthday of Robert Burns, a celebrated Scottish poet and songwriter. His ballads, songs, satires and poems contain some of the world’s most recognisable lines - you may not realise it, but you almost certainly know some of his work…

Auld Lang Syne

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne.

The Scottish National Bard left behind a huge catalogue of poetry and songs when he died at only 37 years of age in 1796 and his contribution to Scottish culture has been cherished by many for the past two centuries.

But how did the tradition of Burns Night get started?

The first ‘Burns supper’ was held in July 1801 by nine of the Bard’s closest friends, who commemorated the fifth anniversary of his death with haggis, performances and speeches in honour of his work. So successful was this get-together that they decided to repeat it on his birthday, thus beginning the tradition that we all uphold to this day.

A typical Burns supper

There are many different versions of a Burns supper carried out throughout the country on January 25th, but the traditional running order looks something like this:

To start
At the beginning of the evening when everyone takes their seats, the host recites The Selkirk Grace, a Burns prayer said before meals.

The meal
A traditional Burns supper includes haggis, neeps and tatties and of course whisky! While the haggis is served, the host performs Address to a Haggis and a toast is made to this most famous of Scottish delicacies.

Burns recitals
Traditionally, the Immortal Memory is then performed, followed by Toast to the Lassies then Reply to the Toast to the Lassies, with a couple of other recitals in between.

The grand finale
The host thanks all those present then everyone stands to sing Auld Lang Syne, crossing their arms and joining hands at the line ‘And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!’

While we’re not all up to the job of reciting poetry or performing grand speeches, everyone can get involved in the fun however they choose!

Audley Villages will certainly be joining the celebration by hosting Burns Night suppers throughout our restaurants in the North, Midlands, South East and South West of England. 

Do get in touch and share your memories of Burns Night on Audley Villages Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages – we’d love to see all the different ways you are celebrating.

Audley Villages restaurants host a traditional Burns Night supper on 25th January, including (of course) haggis and plenty of whiskey.