Cheers to Haggis!

At the end of January, we celebrated Robert Burns Night. Burns was a Scottish farmer turned poet who became a celebrity. (He wrote Auld Lang Syne). On Burns’ birthday, January 25, folks celebrate him by eating haggis, neeps, and tatties. Haggis is a runny sausage goo of sheep parts, oats, and spices stuffed into a sheep stomach. Neeps are turnips, cooked and mashed, and tatties are potatoes, cooked and mashed. We were a bit worried about whether we would be able to get this down, but it was surprisingly good. Seriously! Max had three portions and even ate some for the next day.

Along with the meal, we had a wee bit of ceremony. Max carried in the haggis with appropriate reverence and solemnity. We read part of “To The Haggis” that Burns wrote (I’m a bit fuzzy on what the poem means, but the “gushing entrails” part did wonders for our appetite!) Here are a few lines so you can get the taste of it:

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

We ate our meal to the soundtrack of Brave. After finishing off the meal with a pudding, Katie sang, Grace and Max performed a song and dance honoring Burns, and we gave traditional toasts – the women to the men, and men to the women. It was fun, but I think there is a reason that Scots only eat haggis once a year.

I can’t help adding a few more lines from Burns. Here is the end of “To a Louse” about our foolishness:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

If you want to hear actors read some of Burns’ poems (and maybe get some translations), there is a great BBC site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/robertburns/works/

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5 thoughts on “Cheers to Haggis!

  1. We enjoyed your Robert Burns Night celebration, with some quotes from his poetry. We were amazed that Max had three helpings of haggis! I made a copy of your e-mail for Jean Casson. She attended the Robert Burns Night dinner with the St. Andrews Scottish Society last month. It is an annual affair when they all dress up in their Scottish outfits and pass the haggis. We attended a Robert Burns Night a few years ago with Jean. Love, Grandmother Barbara and Papa John

  2. Wonderful! We celebrated with all the Scots during our HK days. Terry says to tell you that haggis goes down better with Whiskey or Scotch as the Americans call it. There is a Burns night in NYC, too. Love the poetry, but most of all the pictures. Good on you, Max.
    Love, Ellen and Terry

  3. Thenk ye all for the wonderful tale of your Burns even’! Sounds like you had a wonderful time, despite (or because of?) blobs of entraily haggis, and that you’re enjoying life across the pond! Love from Anna, Katie, Jonathan, aunt Pam and uncle Bruce

  4. A very sad day. I just read that Haggis was imported from France by Mary Queen of Scots. And the whole idea of a unique Scottish culture is a bit of an invention. Kilts, tartans, and even, gasp, bagpipes are anything but uniquely Scottish. They were the result in the late eighteenth century of a mixture of the Romantic poets and frauds on one side and British Imperial interests on the other. Don’t get me started. . .

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