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Poetry Competitions UK
19 Jan 2012

Burns Night

Burns Night is celebrated every year on the 25th January to celebrate Robert Burns, one of the best loved and most celebrated poets of his time. Sadly he passed away in 1796 at the young age of 37, but those in Scotland will never forget his impact on literature. His most well known work is 'Auld Lang Syne' which is commonly sung on New Year's Eve in Scotland, the rest of the United Kingdom and places around the world.

To mark mark his death and pay him a suitable tribute his friends gathered exactly a year after his death on July 21st. Less than 100 years later, over 50 Burns Clubs were taking place all over but the date which it was celebrated changed to January 25th to reflect the celebration of Robert Burns' birth.

Burns Night is celebrated all different types of ways, you can attend a very formal event organised by Burns Clubs, stay at home for small gatherings or go to less formal impromptu celebrations. It doesn’t matter what you wear whether it be kilts, formal dresses or jeans but most Scottish folk follow the traditional Burns Night celebrations.

How do people celebrate?

Many people and organisations hold a Burns Supper on or around January 25th. During the evening there are many toasts and readings of Robert Burns work. The main centre of the evening does centre around the entrance of the haggis on a large platter to the sound of a piper playing the bagpipes. The 'Address to a Haggis' is then read by the host of the evening when the haggis is on the table, this is a ode that Robert Burns had writtenfor the Scottish dish. Once the reading is over the haggis is sliced into two and the meal begins.


On Burns Night the Scottish flag is often displayed. At events many men wear kilts and women wear shawls, skirts or dresses made from their family tartan.

Tartan comes in many different colours and patterns; the colours and combination are associated with different areas, clans and families in Scotland.

Traditional Burns Night food includes cock-a-leekie soup (which is a chicken and leek soup), haggis, tatties (mashed potatoes), crananchan (whipped cream mixed with raspberries and served with sweet oat wafers) and whisky as their traditional drink.

If you would like to read some or all of Robert Burns' poems and songs please go to http://www.robertburns.org/works/.

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