The day the world eats haggis
Most common in Scotland and Northern Ireland, on Jan. 25 people celebrate the life of the poet Robert Burns with Scottish food, whiskey and poetry, then toast—or roast—the opposite sex, at a Burns Supper that includes “piping of the haggis.”
“But if ye wish her grateful prayer, give her a haggis!”
The concluding injunction to Robert Burns' poem Address to a Haggis will be echoed with whiskey breath around the world today, Jan. 25, during annual Burns Suppers, also called Burns Nights, held in private homes and clubs throughout the world. (The event is more widely celebrated in Scotland than St. Andrew’s Day, the national holiday.)
Scottish whiskey and poems will flow in celebration of the 18th century Scottish poet who penned the famous lyric poems Auld Lang Syne, A Red, Red Rose and Tom o’ Shanter.
But honoring the “ploughman’s poet,” a man who shaped and saved the Scottish tongue--opinions vary on that legacy--won’t be the only thing on the evening’s itinerary. Traditional Burns Suppers abide by a strict and somewhat silly agenda.
After the host delivers a welcome address, all attendants say the Selkirk Grace, a traditional Scottish dinner prayer attributed to Burns.
The “piping of the haggis” follows; bagpipes wheeze and wail while diners recite poems from Burns’ oeuvre. All poem readings are dramatic, incorporating real or feigned Scottish accents.
More from the MSN Living: Your 2013 bargain calendar
Then Address to a Haggis is read while the master of ceremonies carves the haggis. A toast is made to the haggis, acknowledging its contribution to the night's literary event.
Tartan clad feasters tuck into dishes of the savory pudding, tatties and neeps (mashed potatoes and turnips), birdies (meat pies) and cullen skink (fish stew).
After supping, an attendee gives a speech of “immortal memory” celebrating Burns’ life (he was a ladies man from a poor farming family) and his work (he was a chronicler and major contributor to both the Scottish and Romantic traditions). A thanks is given to the speaker and a toast drank to Burns.
Bing: What is haggis?
The “toast to the lassies,” a comic or serious homage paid to the ladies in attendance by the gents, follows. A drink to the health of the females concludes this portion of the program. But wait, the women must reply with a “toast to the lads,” and another drink.
More from the MSN Living: 25 things that will keep you young
As the night becomes more booze-fueled, further toasts and readings of poetry, not limited to Burns’ works, usually become more animated while the accents become less comprehensible.
Naturally the supper must include with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.
Photo: VisitBritain/Britain on View/Getty Images
inspire: live a better life
How much do you really know about the Earth? In honor of Earth Day, April 22, we explore some interesting and fun facts about the fifth-largest planet of our solar system.
Happify shares their results of a recent study on how money affects our happiness.
A top exec reveals the company's secret code
Pro tips from the guy who's done it four times
Not all mistakes are as blatant as posting party pics when you're 'sick' at home.
Everyone struggles through weekday drudgery to reach their weekend fun. But what if you could reclaim every day of your life?
Zooming up the ladder is great, but questioning yourself 24/7 is no way to succeed. Manage your stressed self with these surefire tips.
Forget trying to control every little detail. Life is lots more fun (and less stressful) when you let go from the get-go.
So, what exactly is this thing we call "happiness" and how do we get it?
Mark Zuckerberg has an even bigger effect on your life than you thought.
Everyone makes mistakes, but some mistakes can be devastating. Here are 10 icons who fell from grace, and what they can do to redeem themselves.
Twitter turns eight years old today.