I hope you had a lovely Burns Night, dear friends, those of you who are already into it – for those who are not, I’d like to tell you a few things about the man who is celebrated in Scotland and all around the world on the 25th of January (his birthday in 1759). Unlike William Shakespeare in England, ‘Rabbie’ Burns, the darling of Scotland, has got his own national holiday!
I already provided some information on Burns Night the previous two years, in case you want to have a look:
Now this year, Burns Night was different for me – because my darling husband and me spent our summer holidays in Scotland last year, the first time I ever set foot on that lovely soil! Bonnie Scotland is magically beautiful, just like you’d imagine it if you’ve seen “Braveheart” or “Rob Roy”; and you get into the spirit of Scotia in no time with the green landscape and the grand old cities, the wonderful people, the music, the whisky and, last but not least, the food – believe it or not, Scotland is a culinary paradise.
And Burns Night, of course, is partly about food: Rabbie himself wrote a whole poem dedicated to a haggis, that ‘great chieftain o’ the puddin-race’ – and so it’s served until this day as the climax of all Burns suppers on Burns Night. And, as we found out after coming back from Scotland last summer, we’re actually lucky enough to have a huge supermarket close by that sells ready haggis, even down here in London! So we’d have a REAL Burns supper this year: cock-a-leekie soup for starters, and then haggis, black pudding, neeps and tatties (mashed turnips=swedes and mashed potatoes) with whisky sauce (very easy to do: just make a gravy with water and gravy powder in the pan you fried the black pudding in and add some milk and whisky)!
But it’s not ONLY about the food, of course – on Burns Night, we should pay tribute to the great bard and his work. Now, a great way of getting to know some of Rabbie’s poems is listening to the songs made out of them – there’s a lot of them on YouTube, just search ‘Robert Burns poems’ and you’ll get a whole treasure trove of beautiful songs with lyrics written by him. The one that gripped us most this year was “A Man’s a Man for A’ That” – a stirring, rebellious prophesy about the things that truly make a man (or a woman, for that matter): it’s not riches or titles, but a free spirit, honesty and common sense. And it’s those qualities that will make all men brothers one day – a touch of John Lennon’s “Imagine’’, written in the 18th century!
Just in case you’ve got some difficulties understanding Scots (the Scottish dialect of English), here’s an English translation:
It’s just endlessly fascinating to explore all the many facets of this magnetic man that was Robert Burns – not only a uniquely talented poet and a charming, handsome ladies’ man, but also a rebel, a republican, a socialist even, way ahead of his time who immensely influenced great poets pf later generations like Byron, Shelley and many others.
So here’s to Rabbie once again, to Scotland and to freedom and to global peace and unity!