It’s Burns Night again, dear friends – but a different one this year, in the middle of coronavirus and a third lockdown. There will be no big events as usual in Scotland, no parties with family and friends, no celebrations in restaurants and pubs… But it’s still the anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s greatest poets, and there’s no reason why we can’t honour him this year like every year – there are lots and lots of ways!
First of all, of course, by reading some of his wonderful poems; you can find lots of them online, like this one. Rabbie had a great way of writing about ‘everyday’ things like few poets before him had ever dared to do; in this case, he puts himself in the place of a… mouse! The beautiful lines reflect Rabbie’s sympathy and feelings even for the tiniest of creatures:
Then, there’s the special Burns Night meal, of course – usually starring another subject of Rabbie’s poetry, the haggis…
It’s very difficult to do a haggis at home yourself; you’ll need the complete innards of a sheep, including the stomach to cook it in. An alternative, if you can’t get it at the supermarket, is ordering one online, but if you haven’t done that already it’s probably too late to try on the day. We got ours this year directly from a Scottish family business, together with the black pudding!
As a side dish you’ll need neeps and tatties, of course – in English: a mash of turnips (swedes) and potatoes. You can do it yourself with the help of your food processor, or you can get one ready! And for dessert I recommend a ginger cake.
But if you haven’t been able to get a haggis for your Burns Night at home, there’s always another alternative: a good old-fashioned Scotch Broth. Here’s the recipe:
As for the atmosphere, you’ll need some background music – bagpipes, of course! You don’t need to buy a CD, it’s all on YouTube, hours of it:
And this year, due to the special circumstances, we even get a special treat online that most of us would normally be unable to see: a virtual Burns Night in Edinburgh Castle! Tune in here…
Then, if you want to learn more about the great bard’s eventful life, there’s an immensely interesting documentary on YouTube:
So, have a lovely Burns Night, dear friends, stay in, stay safe, and celebrate with a wee dram of whisky or two!