Feature

Nov 2012

Burns’ Supper Guide

Around the world tributes to Robert Burns are held through the ritual of the Burns' Supper. Originally started a few years after his death by a group of his friends and acquaintances, to honour his memory, the suppers are now celebrated annually on the date of his birth, 25th January. Here are the perfect ingredients needed to hold your very own Burns' Supper.

Burns' Night Menu

The centrepiece of any good Burns' Supper menu is the iconic haggis, or as the bard himself described it, the 'great chieftain o' the puddin'-race'. You can buy this from your local butcher, deli, supermarket or nearest Scottish store if you live overseas.

Traditional accompaniments to the haggis are neeps and tatties or as they are more commonly known - turnip and potatoes. These are normally served mashed.

The haggis is already cooked and just needs some careful re-heating until it is piping hot. You can do this in the oven or the pan and for the less domesticated out there you can even do it in the microwave!

A tasty alternative for non-meat eaters is the vegetarian haggis.

For a starter, you might consider a home-made Scots broth or cock-a-leekie soup.

Finally, to round off your Burns' Supper menu, pudding might consist of a traditional Clootie Dumpling or a classic cranachan.

Find these and other Scottish recipes

Burns' Night Menu - What to drink

Whisky is the usual choice at Burns' Suppers, either malts or blends. Contrary to popular belief, adding a little water to your malt should improve rather than dilute the flavour, although some whisky drinkers may not take kindly to watering down their drams!

It is traditional to pour a dram over the haggis but some may prefer not to as it drowns out the taste of the meat and makes it soggy and cold! It's perhaps best to enjoy each independently of the other.

If you don't like whisky, then robust red wines make a good accompaniment. White wines don't complement the dish quite so well, but it's whatever takes your fancy. Ales, lager, punch, Scottish fruit wines or soft drinks (perhaps Irn Bru, being Scotland's 'other national drink') are all alternatives.

More about Scotland's food and drink

Burns' Supper Music

The haggis is traditionally piped in, which could prove difficult if neither you or any of your guests can play the bagpipes!

There is no shortage of CDs or downloads of Robert Burns' songs which you can use to dance to later on in the evening's celebrations.

A rousing chorus of 'Auld Lang Syne' at the end of the night is a must. Don't forget, Burns' Suppers can be contemporary too, so feel free to play more modern Scottish music.

Burns' Supper Poems and Toasts

Traditional recitals on the evening include the 'Selkirk Grace' and the 'Address to a Haggis'.
Other recitals on the evening include a speech commemorating Burns and a toast to the great man, known as the 'Immortal Memory', the 'Address to the Lassies' and of course 'The Reply from the Lassies', which are normally created especially for the evening.

Selkirk Grace

Some have meat and cannot eat,
Some cannot eat that want it;
But we have meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit

Toasts and poems by Burns

Burns' Supper Dress: Tartan

If you're hosting this event at home then literally anything goes, but it is definitely recommended that you wear at least a little bit of tartan! Whether it be a tartan hat, a tartan tie, or the full kilt get up, it's entirely up to you.

If you want to look the part then Kilt Up!

Want to know more about Robert Burns?