Did you get into the #BurnsNight spirit?
Yesterday – January 25 – marked the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, the iconic Scottish poet. Burns Night, as the evening is traditionally known, is an annual celebration not only in Scotland but across the rest of the UK too. Burns’ close friends started the tradition of the Burns Night supper five years after his death in 1801. Unknowingly they started a tradition that survives in modern day.
Burns is largely seen as the national poet of Scotland. He is famous for his poetry and lyrics, written in both Scottish dialect and traditional English. His poetry took references not only from classical, biblical and English literature, but also from the Scottish Makar tradition. He is celebrated internationally; Burns is associated in the Romantic movement and even after his death he inspired liberalism and socialism. He became a national and international icon.
He was voted by the Scottish public as the ‘greatest Scot’ in 2009. He not only wrote original work but also reimagined Scottish folk songs from across his country. His most famous song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is an iconic song sung at the end of every year in the New Year’s Eve celebrations, while his second most famous song ‘Scots Wha Hae’ was the unofficial national anthem of Scotland for many years.
What is the traditional way to celebrate Burns Night? According to the International Business Times:
“A traditional Scottish meal washed down with Scotch whisky is the long-established way to celebrate Burns and his life. Haggis is common, but other recipes include Scottish smoked salmon, cock-a-leekie soup or stovies, of which the basic ingredients – meat, potatoes and onion – make a great winter warmer.
Suppers can range from an informal gathering of friends to a huge, formal dinner full of pomp and circumstance. A short but important prayer read to usher in the meal, The Selkirk Grace, is also known as Burns’s Grace at Kirkcudbright. Although the text is often printed in English, it is usually recited in Scots:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.”
What else does Burns Night inspire? We came across some bizarre and interesting facts and creations to honour and celebrate Robert Burns. Taking a look at Twitter, we found some fun twists from big names on the big night:
- Guinness World Records shared the largest haggis statistics and the biggest number of kilts dressed within a minute.
- PETA UK turned #BurnsNight into a modern Vegan affair.
- The Fashion Museum Bath gave us a snapshot of historic Royal kilts.
- Wright’s Baking shared the #BurnsNight cupcakes which you can wash down with a classic Whiskey Sour from Bel&Dragon Godalming.
An article “Burns Night 2016: 15 facts you never knew about Robert Burns” in Metro by Charlotte Long shares some fun facts about January 25. Not only do various celebrities like Alicia Keys and Virginia Woolf share Burns’ birthday, he also turns out to be a music legend in his own right. Burns’ famous song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ has been covered by many artists, including Mariah Carey.
‘Auld Lang Syne’ also appears in the Guinness World Records “for being one of the most popular songs of all time – alongside Happy Birthday and For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow.”
Another interesting fact is that Robert Burns comes in as the third most representative of all non religious statues in the world, after Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus. His statues can be found in Australia, Canada, America, New Zealand and the UK.
Burns was also known for being rather partial to the ladies which resulted in him fathering twelve children with four different mothers. His rebellious nature was also reflected in his personal appearance; he let his hair grow into a shocking-at-the-time ponytail.
Burns was a 21st century marketing success by being the first person to appear on Coca-Cola’s commemorative bottle in 2009. Whiskey coke anyone?
As for a claim to fame, Tommy Hilfiger believes himself to be a direct descendent of Burns. Wouldn’t that be an interesting ‘Who do you think you are?’ episode?
But of all of the above facts, this last one is the one we find most delightful: Burns is the inspiration to Michael Jackson’s smash track ‘Thriller’! Rumours dictate that ‘Thriller’ was inspired by Burns’ poem ‘Tam o’Shanter’.
How did you celebrate Burns Night? Send us a Tweet @UK2.