Having been brought up in ‘Burns country’, I have been used to the wide plethora of Burns Suppers celebrated from any time soon after New Year. Although the date should be January 25th, it seems to be acceptable throughout the whole 12 months. However, it does reach it’s crescendo around the 25th when quite honourable, intelligent, well adjusted men exchange that embodiment of self-esteem for some strange alien being, since copious amounts of whisky are the perfect accompaniment to the haggis.
There are certain rituals to the Burns Supper, it is an evening’s entertainment and if you get good entertainers, good speakers and good food, it is an excellent night. The other notable piece of information is if you have a kilt, you wear it.
It is an evening of song, recitation, speeches and tales. There is an order to the programme of course with plenty of pomp and circumstance. The chairman greets the guests and introduces those taking part. This is followed by the ‘Selkirk Grace’;
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
Normally everyone would stand while the star attraction gets piped in, a steaming haggis served on a silver platter. It is then addressed by Burns’ recitation “To A Haggis”. Once completed, it gets taken to the kitchens for serving and the meal can begin.
Cock-a-leekie soup is a good starter but it can be lentil or Scotch broth or similar after which haggis, neeps (mashed swede) and tatties (mashed potatoes) are served. Only a small portion is served as this is followed by a heartier meal, perhaps of steak pie. The dessert can be traditional Cranachan, a delicious dish of whipped cream and toasted oatmeal, whisky and raspberries. but like the other selections on the menu, there can be alternatives such as apple pie and cream etc.
There are two other poems which are part of the celebrations and those taking part will be happy to slip into the part.