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HomeEVERYDAY ETIQUETTEWhat Happens at a Burns Night Supper?

What Happens at a Burns Night Supper?


With whisky, bagpipes and poetry aplenty, a Burns Night supper is a lot of fun. Here’s the traditional format for the evening in remembrance of the memory of Robert Burns, Scotland’s most celebrated poet:

1. Before everyone sits down to eat, the host says the Selkirk Grace, attributed to Burns.

2. After the starter has been eaten, the haggis (a dish made from spices and minced sheep’s heart and liver) is brought in, accompanied by the bagpipes playing. The host says the poem: Address to a Haggis, the haggis is toasted with whisky and the meal is served, then dessert.

3. The main speech at a Burns Night Supper, after the meal is the Immortal Memory, a tribute to Robert Burns. The host normally focuses on a part of Burns’ life and speaks for 15 minutes. Subsequent speeches include a Toast to the Lassies, a reply to the Toast to the Lassies and a final Burns recital.

4. Once the host has thanked everyone, people stand to sing Auld Lang Syne, the song traditionally song on Hogmanay, or New Year’s Eve, to welcome in the New Year.

And, of course, to ensure that you’re properly dressed in Highland Dress, you can consult Debrett’s Handbook for tips.


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