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Burns Night Traditions

Posted on 6th December 2013
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Karnival Costumes blog banner for Burns Night Traditions, a look at the celebrations of Robbie Burns who's birthday is celebrated each year with costume parties around the world

Burns Night Traditions

Clown Logo of Karnival Costumes your Halloween specialists for Fancy Dress and Costume AccessoriesJanuary 25th is probably the most important night in the Scottish calendar. The day serves as a commemoration for the life and works of Robert Burns, Scotland’s most celebrated poet. For over two hundred years patriots and families alike have enjoyed gatherings and celebrations for the man who holds a special place in the hearts of Scots wherever they may be around the world.

Born into a time of massive social change in Scotland which saw the mass exodus from the Highlands into the more densely populated urban areas, he became a keen social commentator on what was happening around him. Robert Burns was unprecedented in his approach to his writings and poetry, which were full of the passions that he felt. Still today Burns’ words about heartfelt topics such as universal brotherhood, love and the human condition remain as if timeless classics
Karnival Costumes blog image for our Big Scot fancy dress costumes Ref: BS003296 at www.karnival-house.co.uk your dress up specialists
From its humble beginning of a group of Burn’s friends getting together, just a few years after his death, to reminisce his birth, his life and his works these birthday celebrations have become a global festival, full of pomp and ceremony that occur today, usually focusing on a Burns Night Supper. In fact, many believe and would suggest that it’s Burns who put Scotland on the map and the noted Scottish scholar J.S. Blackie once said; "When Scotland forgets Burns, then history will forget Scotland."
 
A formal Burns Night Supper and celebration will follow a traditional running order and below we’ve listed all the key elements that you need to plan for if planning to emulate these formal occasions;
 
A piper will welcome guests with traditional Scottish music until all are present and seated at which point applause is due for the piper from the assembled diners. 
 
If it is appropriate, the host will issue a warm welcome to the evening’s proceedings and entertainment.
 
Before any food is delivered to the room, a short but important prayer is read, this is The Selkirk Grace, which is also known as Burns’ Grace, and it is usually recited in Scots. It has a simple eloquence and really is quite beautiful.
 
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
 
Now with the first course is finished and with all of the serving staff out of the way, it’s time for the meal’s star attraction, the Haggis. And Karnival Costumes Blog Image for our Bonnie Scots Lass fancy dress costume Ref: BJ07391 at www.karnival-house.co.uk your Burns Night party dress up specialiststhis is delivered into the room on a silver platter with all of the pomp and majesty befitting it through a bagpipe procession which should take the longest route to the top table so that all of the guests have a chance to absorb its magnificence. 
 
The nominated reader then addresses the haggis and no, this doesn’t mean an envelope with a label saying ‘To Mr. Haggis'.  This is a fiery rendition Burn’s work ‘To a Haggis’ and during the final line, the haggis is cut open along its length, ensuring some of it’s tasty cased contents spill out for full effect!
 
The audience then toasts the haggis and enjoys the main course with its traditional companions, neeps and tatties. In larger events, the piper leads a procession carrying the opened haggis out to the kitchen for serving with the departing procession being applauded by the diners.
 
Served to a background of traditional Scottish music, a typical Burns Night meal would consist of;
 
Starter
Traditional cock-a-leekie soup
 
Main Course
Haggis, neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes)
 
Dessert
Clootie Dumpling (traditional rich fruit pudding prepared in a linen cloth or cloot - recipe) or Typsy Laird (a typically Scottish trifle made using whisky rather than sherry)
 
Entertainment usually follows immediately after the meal with singers and musicians stepping forward to perform some of Burns’ many songs and poems. The festivities are then closed with guests invited to belt out a heart-warming rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
 
Clearly, formal Burns Night celebrations will have a dress code but they only represent a small percentage of the celebrations and parties held around this glorious celebration of his birthday. If you are thinking of planning a rather less formal family gathering on Burns Night then you can create some of the formality of the traditional ceremony using a CD of the pipes plus traditional music for the background.

You could even go the whole hog and dress up in typically Scottish fancy dress. At Karnival Costumes we have a range of Scots patriotic outfits includes Scots kilts, bagpipes, authentic tartan Tam O’Shanters plus a whole collection of other Scottish fancy dress costume accessories perfect for a themed Burns Night or St Andrews Day which together with Hogmanay make up the three major celebrations in Scotland.
 
 
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