January 25th marks the birth of Robbie Burns, Scotland’s favourite romantic poet and lyricist.
Today, people from around the world will be celebrating the birth of this beloved bard over scotch, haggis, and dance. Even if you’re not of Scottish descent, today is still worth celebrating.
Here is everything you need to know about Robbie Burns Day.
Who is Robbie Burns?
Robert Burns was born on January 25th, 1759, in Alloway, Scotland.
When Burns was young, his mother introduced him to Scottish folk songs, legends and proverbs, and he began to compose touching poems and songs shortly after.
Burns’ poetry was inspired by the works of Alexander Pope and by the intimate relationships he had with women. In his early twenties, he moved to Edinburgh.
He began hanging around very affluent and intelligent people, which proved to be a major influence on his work. This period in Edinburgh marked a very productive time in his career.
Some of Burns’ more popular poems include “Auld Lang Syne,“ “Ye Banks and Breaes of Bonnie Doon,” and “My Love’s Like a Red, Red Rose.”
At the age of 37, he died from rheumatic heart disease, which he had suffered from since he was a child.
Following his death, Burns became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism. He is now a cultural icon in Scotland and among people of Scottish heritage around the world.
What is Robbie Burns Day?
Robbie Burns Day is also known as Burns Suppers and is one of the biggest nights of the year in Scotland.
Originally, Burns’ friends would get together to have supper and to recite his most popular poems to commemorate the fifth anniversary of this death. The first Burns Night was held in Ayrshire at the end of the 18th century.
Now, more than two centuries later, Scottish descendants from all around the world come together to celebrate the life of this influential Scotsman. These parties can range from large, formal affairs to intimate dinners held at home.
Later in the evening, when the main course is brought in, every guest should stand. The cook will bring in the haggis while a piper plays bagpipes and leads the way to the host’s table. The host or a guest will the recite Address to a Haggis, which was written by Burns, and a whisky toast will be made.
Following dinner, guests will spend the evening reciting Burns’ poetry and a ‘toast to the lassies’, will be given, which is the gentlemen’s way of saying thanks to the women who would cook food for the supper. Today, it’s a more humorous part of the evening.
At the end of the evening, the host will ask one of the guests to give thanks, after which everyone is asked to stand, join hands, and sing Auld Lang Syne.