Portrait of Robert Burns
When is Burns Night?
How long until Burn Night?
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Dates of Burns Night
Burns Night is a cultural event that takes place on 25 January in Scotland.
It celebrates the life and work of Robert Burns, a Scottish poet who is widely seen as the national poet of Scotland.
While Burns Night is not a national holiday, it is arguably more widely celebrated than St. Andrew's Day, Scotland's national day.
History of Burns Night
Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 in Alloway, Scotland. Robert was born into a poor family, but his father ensured that he received a good education and Robert's interest in reading fuelled his poetic output.
While earning a living as a farm worker, he started composing poetry as he worked. His first collection was published in 1786 and became an instant success, and Burns was seen as a leading light in the Romantic movement.
Only 37, Robert Burns died from a rheumatic condition on 21 July 1796.
Did you know?
Robert Burns' funeral took place on 25 July 1796, the day that his son Maxwell was born.
The tradition of a Burns night (Burns supper) began shortly after the poet's death, when some of his friends gathered to remember Robert and his poetry on the anniversary of his birth.
As Robert Burns gained prominence as the greatest of Scottish poets, so the tradition of honouring his work on Burns night grew in popularity.
Though they may differ in formality, Burns evenings generally follow a similar pattern. A meal with haggis is served.
What is Haggis?
Haggis is a Scottish dish made from Sheep's heart, liver, and lungs minced with onion oatmeal, suet and spices. It was traditionally encased in the animal's stomach, though artificial casings are now more common.
A second key element is the drinking of a good Scottish single malt whiskey in honour of the poet.
Finally, the activities of the evening are framed within his poetry. When the haggis is carved, 'To a Haggis' is recited, with its famous line, "Great chieftain o' the pudding race". Before the meal another of Burns' poems, the Selkirk Grace is read.
Did you know?
In 2009, Scottish TV held a public vote on who was "The Greatest Scot" of all time. Robert Burns won, beating William Wallace of 'Braveheart' fame.
The evening ends aptly with "Auld Lang Syne". Robert Burns was the first to write down this old Scottish folk song, and its popularity is now global as no New Year's Eve party is complete without its rendition.