Friday, January 25, 2013

Burns Supper

A Burns supper is a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns, author of many Scots poems. The suppers are normally held on or near the poet's birthday, 25 January, sometimes also known as Robert Burns Day (or Rabbie Burns Day) or Burns Night, although they may in principle be held at any time of the year.

Shortly after Burns's death, groups of friends and acquaintances began to gather in his memory. In 1859, the centenary of his birth, memorial events were held all over Scotland and among the Scottish diaspora, and 25 January virtually became a national holiday. The memorial events have taken on a particular structure: there is a meal, one ingredient of which must be the haggis, addressed with Burns's poem before serving. After the meal there are two speeches with fixed titles, but variable contents: "To the Immortal Memory" and "To the Lasses." "The Immortal Memory" offers a serious recollection of Burns, usually with emphasis on him as man rather than as poet, and often incorporates legendary instances of his humanity: he is said, for example, to have warned a woman selling ale without a license that the tax collectors would be by late in the day, thereby giving her the opportunity to destroy the evidence. The toast "To the Lasses" is usually short and humorous, paying tribute to Burns's way with women and to the many descriptive songs he wrote about them. Interspersed among these speeches and other toasts are performances of Burns's songs and poems. Typically, the event concludes with the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" by the assembled company, arrayed in a circle and clasping hands.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

Learn more about Robert Burns using WVLC's database collection. Or stop in to pick a collection of his poems.

No comments:

Post a Comment