25 January is Burns Night, an evening where we celebrate the famous poet Robert Burns on his birthday. Burns suppers are most commonly held in Scotland or Ireland, but people celebrate Burns Night all over the globe. The first Burns suppers were held in memory of Burns, and in July on the anniversary of his death. In the early 19th century it gradually changed to being observed on his birthday - though lots of people do still have a Burns supper in July too.
A typical Burns supper will always include haggis, Scotch whiskey, and people reciting Burns's poetry. Of course, there are usually bag pipes as well. In fact, the pipes are traditionally played as the haggis is brought into the room and laid in front of the host. The haggis is toasted with Scotch whiskey before the party sits down to eat it. Burns suppers can be as formal or informal as the attendees desire, but there is usually a lot of Scotch whiskey involved!
A traditional Burns Night Supper begins with a piper greeting the guests. The host then makes a welcoming speech, which is followed by the Selkirk Grace - and then, the haggis. The haggis’s entry is usually heralded by a piper, and everyone stands to welcome it. Once the haggis has arrived, there is the Address to a Haggis, where a long poem is recited as part of the haggis cutting ceremony. This is often seen as the highlight of the Burns Supper, and there’s usually a whisky toast to the haggis at the end, before everyone tucks into their supper.
Burns Night is not only for Scottish people, but Scottish dress is generally worn - with lots of tartan and kilts. Of course, some people will wear the traditional kilt and sporran, with "nothing underneath" - and others will go for a more humorous approach, with a ginger wig and tartan hat to complete their outfit. Get practising that Scottish accent ...
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