I’m about to out myself as big nerd. Which is probably too not much of a secret anyway, but I think publicizing your themed dinner party in honor of a long-dead Scottish poet is right up there with wearing a Boy Scout uniform as an adult (DAD!) or admitting that you still read Anne of Green Gables every now and again. Ahem. But we’re fine with that. And we’re fine with it – nay, we celebrate this weirdness! – because people all over the world celebrate Burns Night every year. And this year, we did, too.
For the uninitiated, Burns Night is a big ol’ Scottish dinner party celebrated on or ’round about every January 25th in honor of Robert Burns’s birthday. Burns was a poet, scholar, soldier, true Scotsman and all around good guy – except when he was being lascivious and womanizing. But let’s leave that part out for now.
A true Burns Night must consist of just a very few things, namely, haggis, whiskey and readings by the Scotch Bard himself. However, when you read about what Haggis entails, you are far, FAR less likely to want to eat or cook it. Enter, the vegetarian version, which is basically a tasty stuffing that is reminiscent of Thanksgiving. We also added some kale. We need greens, people!
In addition to haggis, there are a few other must-haves for any good Burns Night:
Bangers – sweet Scottish sausages
Clapshot – mixture of mashed potatoes and turnips
Cranachan – a raspberry, cream and granola parfait
Millionaire’s Shortbread – caramel, chocolate, shortbread goodness!
We asked our guests to wear their traditional family tartans, if they were able. The Davis Clan tartan is a gorgeous red plaid shot through with gold, while Nathan’s family is French-Canadian, so he decided his clan tartan would be from the noble house of J. Crew. My sweet friend of Chinese descent didn’t have a clan tartan either, so she wore her best Burberry plaid! From bow ties to scarves, it was hilarious to see what everyone deemed worthy of a clan tartan.
After a first round of whiskey cocktails, the running order begins!
First, you must process in the haggis. Yes, you read that correctly – process. As in, parade it around the house. We did it to the tunes of the Red Hot Chili Pipers ( and yes, you also read that correctly…) Then, someone is supposed to slash it open with a saber. Since we, uh, didn’t have any spare sabers lying around, we settled on a nice big kitchen knife.
While the slashing happens, someone must address the haggis with the classic reading called, rather uncreatively, the “Address to a Haggis.” My gorgeous friend Joya performed admirably, even reading it in Scotch Gaelic!
After the address and the chairwoman’s welcome, the night descends into readings of Burns’ poetry, prayers and songs. We also played cards (spoons!), drank whiskey cocktails and sang Auld Lang Syne to cap off the night. It was a strange, historical and hilarious night for everyone whether we are Scottish or not.
Three cheers for Robert Burns!
Have you ever celebrated Burns Night? Would you be into it? Tell me, tell me!