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A Burns Supper Guide

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From Burns Night: My Supper With Rabbie

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

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The annual celebratory tribute to the life, works and spirit of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). Celebrated on, or about, the Bard’s birthday, January 25th, Burns Suppers range from stentoriously formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars to uproariously informal rave-ups of drunkards and louts. Most Burns Suppers fall in the middle of this range, and adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honoured form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard.

Every Burns Supper has its own special form and flavour, though there are probably more similarities than differences among these gastro-literary affairs. Individual tastes and talents will determine the character of your Burns Supper. Some celebrants may contribute the composition of original songs or poems; some may excel at giving toasts or reciting verse; while others may be captivating storytellers. A particular group of celebrants will, over time, develop a unique group character which will distinguish their Burns Supper celebration from every other.

With a little bit of planning anyone (well, almost anyone) can enjoy a Burns Night celebration. All that’s needed is a place to gather (gracious host), plenty of haggis and neeps to go around (splendid chef), a master of ceremonies (foolhardy chairman), friendly celebrants (you and your drouthy cronies), and good Scotch drink to keep you warm (BYOB). With these ingredients, at least a few celebrants will be able to make prattling fools of themselves, trying to do justice to the words and spirit of Robert Burns. And if everyone brings along a wee dram and a bit of poetry, prose or song then each, in turn, may become an object of mirth and amusement to the gathered throng. Be prepared to enjoy yourself beyond all expectation. With good cheer and gay company we all may, in short, be able to ring in the Bard’s birthday fou rarely.

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