x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Burns Night explained

Float through any social event with M's fast facts. This week John Mather explains Burns Night.

Float through any social event with M's fast facts. This week John Mather explains Burns Night. THE BASICS Every January 25, the anniversary of the birth of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, the poet's admirers, and Scots in general, gather to celebrate his life and work. Burns Night, featuring poetry, speeches and haggis, started the year before his death in 1796 and shows no sign of waning.

THE PROGRAMME The evening starts with the piping in of hosts and guests. Next, the host gives a welcome speech, which is followed by the Selkirk Grace. Then the haggis - really, the star of the evening - is brought in to bagpipes. Before it's carved, the host recites The Address To A Haggis, written by Burns in the dish's honour. The address begins "Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the puddin-race". Various toasts follow, with a final toast to the Queen (well, sometimes), or leader of the country where the dinner is being held. This may be followed with more poetry, while the evening ends with the singing of Burns's most famous work, Auld Lang Syne.

THE MEAL The centrepiece of the meal is the haggis, a sheep's heart, liver and lungs mixed with spices and oatmeal boiled in a sheep's stomach. The haggis is served with "neeps and tatties", swede and potatoes. The appetiser is a cock-a-leekie soup and dessert is a clootie dumpling. THE CONVERSATION Why isn't more food honoured in a poem? For instance, Address To A Bowl Of Guacamole: "Holà, you mushy green paste / A taco chip, I eat with haste!"