Enjoy a dram fine Burns Night

The life and works of Robert Burns will be celebrated across the world. Picture: Rob McDougall
The life and works of Robert Burns will be celebrated across the world. Picture: Rob McDougall
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AS one who believed “A Man’s a Man for a’ That” Robert Burns may have been a little bemused to see how his life and works are celebrated more than 200 years after his death.

Once again tomorrow the works of the Ploughman Poet will be celebrated in every corner of Scotland, while around the world his wit and wisdom will ring out from voices young and old as they join in to raise a toast to a man who was, for a’ that, more than a mere writer.

The cultural legacy of Burns is one of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and Burns Night is a chance to celebrate and share his love of language, poetry, fine food and a wee dram or two.

And while many organised events will be taking place with formal dress, professional pipers and accomplished orators to give voice to the Bard, the beauty of the night – and indeed of his work – is that it can be enjoyed everywhere from the humblest of homes to the grandest of castles.

The essential ingredients are haggis– vegetarian varieties are also available – along with bashit neeps and champit tatties. Or mashed turnip and potatoes. Some Scotch whisky is required, and of course some copies of work by Burns – unless, of course, you know them by heart – such as Address to a Haggis or Immortal Memory.

If you’re hosting your own Burns Supper this year, www.scotland.org/whats-on/burns-night has recipe suggestions from top Scottish chefs such as Andrew Fairlie, Jacqueline O’Donnell and Paul Wedgwood, and a whole host of Rabbie resources to make your Burns Supper go with a bang, including the first two lines of Address to a Haggis in 25 different languages, a quiz to test your knowledge of the Bard and his work, and an interactive game inviting you to Rhyme with Rabbie.

Of course, not everyone will be able to host their own supper, but if you haven’t been invited to a Burns club or a private do, don’t despair – there are plenty of events out there to make sure everyone gets a taste of what Burns is all about. Today and tomorrow Edinburgh Castle will be holding a light-hearted introduction to Burns, his literary works and what exactly he was talking about.

To celebrate his birth, The Real Mary King’s Close is to host a Burns at the Close evening of traditional Scottish food, poetry and a Burns-inspired guided tour of Edinburgh’s underground closes. The special Burns tour concludes with a steaming bowl of Scotch broth accompanied by canapés and a nip of whisky or prosecco within this unique atmospheric setting.

For one night only at 6.30pm tomorrow, the event is the first of its kind to be held on the Close and promises to give guests a historical insight into life in Old Edinburgh.

Craig Miller, general manager at The Real Mary King’s Close, said: “This event is going to be a fitting tribute to the famous Bard who was hugely inspired by one of our very own residents of the Close and lesser-known fellow poet, Robert Fergusson. It’s a chance for people to enjoy this site and celebrate the Bard in a completely new and entertaining way.”

JCI Edinburgh, part of Junior Chamber International, is hosting a weekend of Burns celebrations, with young professionals from around the world joining for the celebrations. The main event tonight is their award-winning annual Charity Burns Supper Gala at Charlotte Square’s Roxburghe Hotel.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre has also lined up a series of events as part of BurnsFest, including an introduction to the Bard at TradFest and Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014 sell-out show Burns for Beginners and the Supper with Burns storytelling dinner.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Burns Night brings together Scots and Scots at heart from all over the world who join to ­celebrate the work of our national Bard and celebrate Scottish culture and heritage. Robert Burns is globally renowned and January 25 is a great opportunity to join with friends, family and loved ones and celebrate his birthday with the world.

“From attending one of our exciting events to hosting your own Burns Night celebrations, there are lots of ways to celebrate and we are encouraging everyone who feels an affinity to Scotland to join us in commemorating the life and works of a remarkable man.”