Best time to go to Scotland

Burns Night Celebrations 2020

Scotsmen respect their national poet and commemorate his legacy by cooking his favorite meal on his birthday

Burns Night Celebrations in Scotland 2020 - Best Time
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© VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

The 25th of January hails a celebration of the utmost importance for Scotsmen—the birthday of Scottish most famous poet Robert Burns. Traditional elements of the so-called Burns Supper are held all over the country and at every food establishment and by each household this famed national meal is made out of sheep's insides called Haggis. It is an obligatory meal during Burns Night, for it was so loved by Burns that he devoted a poem to Haggis. It is served along with neeps and tatties, in other words—turnips and potatoes. The nourishing festive meal is accompanied with poetry reading as well as singing and a few drinks.

Poetry, whisky, and a map with Alloway, poet's birthplace 2020
Poetry, whisky, and a map with Alloway, poet's birthplace

The tradition of Burns supper started soon after the poet's death in 1796, when several of his friends commemorated Burns on the day of his death. About 200 years later it has become a nationwide holiday. The celebration of Burns work and life became especially vigorous in the 19th-20th centuries. In 2009 the Robert Burns was chosen as the greatest Scot.

Burns Night Celebrations in Scotland - Best Season 2020

Formal Burns dinners are hosted by numerous Burns clubs, the Freemasons or St Andrews Societies. Formal suppers follow a standard procedure that includes a piper greeting the guests. Before dinner, the host recites The Selkirk Grace – the prayer of thanks written by Burns. The meal is followed by the Immortal Memory toast so that every guest can give a speech about the poet. The evening ends with the Auld Lang Syne song that is attributed to Burns and all guests sing along.

Best time for Burns Night Celebrations in Scotland 2020