Haggis, Neeps and Tabbies?
The Tab brings you an authentic guide to the perfect Burns Night Supper
The 25th of January is known fondly in Scotland as Burns Day, a celebration of Robert Burns, the great Scottish poet. Like all Scottish celebrations it’s a good excuse to get quite drunk (like we need an excuse?) eat good food and have a bit of a dance. This Saturday will mark the 255th year since Rabbie Burns was born.
To start with, if you can, go to an organised Burns Supper. Cooking up some Haggis in your flat will still be fun but if want the true experience go along to a filled event where there are enough people to dance with and someone ballsy enough to get up and make a tool of themselves in a speech.
The evening has a traditional running order; the guests arrive (in formal attire) and are piped in to the hall and then there’s a welcoming speech, usually including some part of the Selkirk Grace which goes a bit like this:
“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.”
The Main Course:
Then there’s some food and when it’s time for the Haggis the piper makes an appearance again to pipe the Haggis in (this is taken pretty seriously) everyone stands up and there’s the “Address to a Haggis” which in a eight-verse long poem rejoicing the yummy delight that is the Haggis before it’s cut open and shared out.
Now, for most Scots, the idea of Haggis is a welcoming one but the thought of what’s in it isn’t so appetising. Haggis is made from “lites” which is the lungs, windpipe and all those yucky bits of a lamb. They’re blended with oats and sometimes barley and a selection of spices and it is then authentically stored like a big sausage in the stomach lining of a sheep’s stomach. But we promise, it tastes really good!
Haggis is traditionally served with “neeps and tatties” which are Turnips and Potatoes for all of you who aren’t fluent in Scots. When the two are blended together in a mash it’s known as “Clapshot”.
The Grand Finale:
After the food there are some more speeches, traditionally a “Toast to the Lassies” by a male guest and a responding “Toast to the Laddies” by a female.
By this point, everyone’s kind of drunk and a good old ceilidh band starts playing and the dancing starts. Most Scots have had six years of being taught how to dance in High School and by this point can Strip the Willow as good as anyone but if you’re not sure a top tip is just to go for it.
Burns is one of the best Scottish Celebrations of the year (on par with Hogmanay for some) so go for it! Try some Haggis, do some dancing and have a good night.
p.s. EUSA are holding Burns Night celebrations in Teviot. Apparently tickets are sold out, but you may get lucky and PROW is just a stone’s throw away if not.