A toast for your Burns Supper?!
Updated: Feb 4, 2019
Today we celebrate Scotlands favourite Bard, Robert Burns who was born on this day in 1759.
We've grown up celebrating this annual event, which our forefathers have been celebrating since the Burns Supper Club began in 1802. It is always an amazing evening celebrating Burns, from a quiet family meal to a full on Burns Supper.
An organised Burns Supper will usually follow a similar format, guests will arrive wearing highland dress, or a dress kilt for the men and a tartan skirt/dress or a dress with a tartan sash for the ladies. In both cases the tartan would normally be that of the individuals family tartan.
Pre arrival drinks will take place in a nominated area such as a bar before the guest are all piped into the room. The piper will continue to play until everyone has arrived and the guests at the top table have been seated. Once everyone has taken their seats the event host will give everyone a warm welcome and introduce the guests and the entertainment for the evening.
Before the first course is served a short prayer, known as The Selkirk Grace, is read to usher the meal to the table.
The Selkrik Grace
“Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it, But we hae meat and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit.”
The first course, the soup is then served, which is normally Scotch Broth. This is followed by the second course, the Haggis, which is piped into the room on a silver platter. This of course, is the fanfare moment of the supper (have a look on Youtube for address to the haggis if you've never seen this) and will see everyone stand up and clap as the haggis is piped in. As the guests stand, the haggis, on a silver platter is led in procession by the chef, the piper, a whisky-bearer and the individual who will address the haggis to the guests. The haggis is then presented to the top table, at which point the the piper will stop, the guests will take their seats and silence falls in anticipation for the address to the haggis.
The honoured speaker then recites an entertaining and fluent rendition of Ode to a Haggis before it is served to the guests. This is an entertaining spectacle if done correctly, some good examples are HERE and HERE.
The speaker then prompts the host to toast the haggis, at which point the guests will join in, raise a glass and shout 'the haggis'! The piper will then lead the procession (as the audience clap in time to the pipes) to the kitchen where the haggis will plated with neeps and tatties before being served to the guests. The sweet course will then be served (clootie dumpling, cranachan or tipsy laird), followed by an Atholl Brose and finished with cheeseboard with oatcakes and tea or coffee.
After the meal the first entertainment begins which will often be musical performances of well known Burns songs or recitals of his poems such as Tam O'Shanter, which if performed well is an a great spectre to watch. As the first entertainment concludes, the keynote speaker will deliver the immortal memory, an entertaining but serious reflection on the life of Robert Burns and his works, his political views and of course his nationalism. The speaker will finish with the toast, 'To the immortal memory of Robert Burns'!