Burns Night 2022

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

The Burns Supper is a celebration of the life and legacy of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. While it was first organised by his close friends and family as a memorial dinner, the night has since morphed into an event for Scots at home and around the world.

It is celebrated with traditional Scottish fare, folk music and renditions of Burns’s poetry.

So, who was Robert Burns?

“Rabbie” Burns penned more than 550 poems and songs before his death in 1796.

A massive source of inspiration to the founders of Liberalism and Socialism, the 18th-century writer is known for his astute social commentary and focus on all things political. Scotland’s national poet is considered a revolutionary figure, both in his homeland and beyond.

Dubbed the “greatest Scot of all time” by STV in 2009, the writer from Ayrshire died of rheumatic fever at the age of just 37.

His funeral was held on the same day his son Maxwell was born. Burns’s body was later transferred from a churchyard grave to a mausoleum in Dumfries, where his wife Jean Armour was also laid to rest after her death in 1834.

When is Burns Night?

Burns Night falls on 25 January every year. The date was chosen to coincide with the poet's birthday, who was born on 25 January 1759. The first Burns supper hosted by the Burns Club was held on 29 January 1802, on what was thought to be Burns' birthday.

However, the following year the discovery of parish records revealed that the late poet's birthday was actually four days prior.

How is it celebrated?

The main attraction of Burns Night is the Burns Supper. This traditionally involves participants donning tartan, listening to bagpipes, crooning Auld Lang Syne – also sung at New Year’s Eve – and reciting the great writer’s songs and poems.

The song Auld Lang Syne was derived from a poem penned by Burns in 1788, which he originally sent to the Scots Musical Museum.

Burns Night celebrations commonly incorporate the Saltire, the national flag of Scotland.

While the first Burns Supper was first held way back in 1801 and new rituals have since been appended, the crux of the celebration remains unchanged and revolves around paying tribute to Burns in whatever way feels most fitting.

What’s in the traditional dinner?

The jewel in the crown of any Burns Supper is always haggis, a savoury pudding containing minced sheep’s heart, liver and lungs bound with onion, oatmeal, suet, stock and a selection of spices. It is traditionally bound in the animal’s stomach.

Burns describes haggis as the “great chieftain o’ the puddin-‘race” and a traditional Burns Night kicks off with a host reading his “Address to a Haggis”. Haggis is served with the classic side of mashed neeps and tatties (swedes and potatoes). The food is, of course, accompanied by the finest domestic whisky.

Vegetarians and pescatarians – or those who want to try something a little different – can choose haggis made without meat. Also popular is seafood dishes like Cullen Skink soup, made from smoked haddock.

Celebrating tonight? Find some recipes below (click the picture to be taken directly to the recipe)

Haggis, clapshot and whisky sauce

Celebrate Burns Night with The Hairy Bikers' recipe of haggis, neeps, tatties and whisky sauce.

Vegan Haggis 

Can’t stomach the idea of classic haggis? Chef Aimee Ryan shares her meat-free recipe with Emily Cope to mark the traditional Scottish celebration.

Clootie dumpling

This rich fruit clootie dumpling is a classic Scottish steamed pudding, serve with clotted cream and a dram of whisky.

Cullen skink

Cullen skink is a classic Scottish smoked fish soup with velvety leeks and potato. Perfectly warming for winter.

Loin of venison in a sloe gin and blackberry glaze

This winter dish by The Hairy Bikers cooked with the finest, most tender cut of venison, is a real treat.

Perfect Scottish tablet

Ideal for Burns Night or to give as a gift, this Scottish sweet treat is similar to fudge, with a crumbly texture.

Scotch pies

Also known as mutton pies, these have a very long history. In the middle ages, they were frowned upon by the Scottish church, viewed as luxurious, decadent English-style food. In later centuries, they proved to be convenient and sustaining snacks for working people, who would buy them hot from pie-men or pie-wives in the city streets. The space on top of the pie, created by the raised crust, would sometimes be filled with gravy, beans or mashed potato.

Stovies

This traditional Scottish stovies recipe uses up roast dinner leftovers for some truly spectacular comfort food.

Classic cranachan

This traditional Scottish dessert of oats, cream, whisky and raspberries is a delicious alternative to trifle.

Vegetarian haggis stuffed mushrooms

These cute vegetarian haggis stuffed mushrooms can serve as a starter or main course - just double up the recipe.

How to make Scotch broth

Warm up with a classic recipe for Scotch broth from The Hairy Bikers.

Tattie scones

Slathered with butter, these tattie (potato) scones are so good. They’re great with a bit of Marmite too, or you can go down the sweet route and dish them up with jam or honey. We like to steam the potatoes in this way to get them as dry as possible, then mix them into the flour while still hot. This gives you a lighter, more tender scone.

Dundee cake

This delicious afternoon cake is best served with a hunk of cheese and a hot cup of tea.

Then wash it all down with... 

Whiskey sour

This classic drink belongs to the sour category of cocktails and can be made with or without egg white. I prefer it with egg white, for a silky texture and a more balanced, well-rounded drink.

Hot toddy

The perfect drink for a cold day: whisky with honey and lemon. You can have fun playing around with this classic recipe; use rum, bourbon or cognac instead of scotch and try different sweeteners or spices.

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