Birthday of Robert Burns, January 25, 1759

Did you notice around last New Year’s Eve all the coverage of Auld Lang Syne — and how we all sang it at midnight to welcome the new year, but few of us actually knew the words — or where the song originated?  I think I saw or heard  similar stories on all of the major networks and news channels.

Why, I wondered, when this song had been a tradition for so long, was everyone talking about it this year?  The answer is that the Morgan Library in New York City has an exhibition about Auld Lang Syne and its author, Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796), whose birthday we celebrate on the 25th of January. For more information about the exhibition, soon to conclude at the Morgan Library, click here.

Of course, we remember Burns for much more than just this one song, however often we sing it on New Year’s Eve. 

Burns Nights, on January 25, are celebrated all over the world.  If you have one in the planning, you can find some guidance here.  I have attended only one Burns Night Supper, which I enjoyed very much, though I admit I ate sparingly of the Haggis.  It generally tastes delicious, until you remember what the ingredients are. 

Like tartans, bagpipes, golf, scotch whisky and oatmeal, Burns is part of the essential Scottish tradition.  We remember his many poems — probably in truth just fragments of them —

My Love is Like a Red Red Rose…

To a Mouse…

The list is endless. How did the man accomplish anything but his writing?  There is more than one person can absorb…

Above, Burns in Central Park, New York City.  Above that is a statue in Dumfries,Scotland. It is said that there are more public statues of Burns in places around the world than anyone else in history. I have no idea if this is true, but I’ve seen a lot. Below, Burns Commons in Milwaukee, WI, that bastion of Scottish heritage (not).
And just in case you haven’t made your Haggis for tonight, here are the ingredients:

stomach of a sheep
sheep’s heart,lungs, kidney and liver
onions, beef suet,  oatmeal
salt and pepper, stock — beef or chicken

Okay. That’s as far as I can go.  I suggest that if you want to assemble these ingredients, you Google a recipe.  I’ll have a ham sandwich.

But I will definitely raise a glass of Scotch Whisky in Burns’s honor!!!

Above, The Burns birthplace and museum in Alloyway, Ayshire, Scotland. Happy birthday, Rabbie!!

3 thoughts on “Birthday of Robert Burns, January 25, 1759”

  1. Here's tae us! If you can't stomach (arrgh!) the haggis ingredients, or more likely can't get hold of them, you could try my recipe, which I call a haggisburger. It uses fine minced beef (or lamb if you can find it). Mix it with lots of toasted oats and tons of black pepper and then fry or grill. Quantities are approximate! You have to have the usual bashed neeps and tatties with it and it's not bad.

  2. Thanks, bonny Charlie! Your recipe is much more attractive — just as Diane says. I was talking to a Socttish friend yesterday, and she pointed out that Americans and English who turn up their noses at Haggis will delight in all sort of sausages, wursts, weiners, etc. etc. What do they think goes into them???

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