Burns night

It’s the 25th January today which in Scotland means it’s Burns Night. This is an annual celebration of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. It’s not a public holiday here but that doesn’t mean it’s any less a special day for Scots. It’s typically celebrated with haggis, whisky, tartan, and of course poetry.

Every year at school the kids are given a poem to learn and recite in front of the class. When we first moved to Scotland over 4 years ago Daniel found it particularly taxing. We had lengthy conversations about the purpose of the exercise. Now he seems to quite enjoy learning his poem and reading it to the class. His poem this year is Tam o’ Shanter. Here are the first few verses:

When chapmen billies leave the street,
And drouthy neibors, neibors meet,
As market days are wearing late,
An’ folk begin to tak the gate;
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
And getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, and styles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Where sits our sulky sullen dame.
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.


This truth fand honest Tam o’ Shanter, 
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter, 
(Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses 
For honest men and bonie lasses.)


O Tam! had’st thou but been sae wise, 
As ta’en thy ain wife Kate’s advice! 
She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum, 
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum; 
That frae November till October, 
Ae market-day thou was nae sober; 
That ilka melder, wi’ the miller, 
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller; 
That every naig was ca’d a shoe on, 
The smith and thee gat roaring fou on; 
That at the Lord’s house, even on Sunday, 
Thou drank wi’ Kirkton Jean till Monday. 
She prophesied that late or soon, 
Thou would be found deep drown’d in Doon; 
Or catch’d wi’ warlocks in the mirk, 
By Alloway’s auld haunted kirk.

Elizabeth’s poem is The Magic Pizza by Alison Fitt. For the first time this year both kids have been selected as the top 3 in their class. This means they get to recite their poem in front of the school assembly.

Recently I discovered a “TV dinner” haggis for one at the supermarket.


It was surprisingly good. It can be microwaved or baked in the oven.


We had it with peas.


Happy Robert Burns day to you all!


8 thoughts on “Burns night”

    1. Thank you! I hope the haggis is delicious. Will someone read the address to a vegetarian haggis?

      Ode To A Vegetarian Haggis
      Tim Dalling January 1993

      Oh vegetarian haggis whit a view
      Thou glorious, steaming bag of veggie goo
      No one could ever say that you
      Dish death to beasts,
      Not a single murdered chicken, pig or coo
      Taints your braw feasts.

      But noble pud you must ignore the taunting bores
      From meaty Caledonia’s shores,
      The moaning bloody carnivores
      Who think you need
      To slaughter sheep in scores
      To have good feed.

      Thy beauteous form can satisfy
      The keenest neb or mouth or eye,
      Wi’ as braw’ a meal as ane could buy
      Pulse, veg and spice
      And ev’n sheep eaters that dare to try
      Say Oh it’s nice!

      So stuff the purists and their cries of sin
      Let’s split this pudding, serve and shovel it in,
      And what the hell if it’s wee skin
      A humble plastic bag is.
      Let’s drink a toast and we’ll begin
      The vegetarian haggis.

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