Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Robert Burns Day!

Robert Burns
born January 25, 1759
died July 1796

In Scotland and all around the world, folk celebrate the birthday of Scotland's most famous poet, each year on the anniversary of his birth. How many poets or writers are celebrated in this way? The Peoria Scottish American Society added a few extra touches to the event this year, which took place last Saturday evening. They had a imitation tiered birthday cake with a banner that said 250 years at the top. Sorry I didn't get a photo of that. They had real cake too, although the pipers were too busy to eat any. We also received laminated souvenier bookmarks in our programs. I really like mine and I stole my husband's.

Do you want a translation of the menu? Haggis is a mixture of oats, entrails, and spices. Bridies=meat pies, Tatties= mashed potatoes, Bashed Neeps=mashed turnips or rutabaga, garden peas, etc. Our plates were brought out with all the above mentioned delicacies except for the haggis, which was served separately. I'm not a haggis lover but my husband ate his share. They said it was particularly good this year.

At the beginning of a Burns Supper, the haggis, which at this point looks like a cross between a giant sausage and a mound of brown jello, is carried in ceremoniously while a piper plays. Patrick played "Leaving Port Askaig" while Kevin, our new Pipe Major, carried the quivering mass on a platter. When they reach the head table. someone recites "Address to a Haggis", written by Rabbie Burns, who else? We all echo, "To The Haggis!", they throw back a shot or two of whiskey, and then the piper and carrier of the haggis march out. I don't know of any other food that gets this special treatment and if it weren't for Robert Burns' poem, you would probably never see anything remotely like this happening with haggis. In fact, nobody would probably eat it although it is still eaten in Scotland.

After eating as fast as we can the pipers go into the back room to tune the pipes. Meanwhile, I believe some singing and dancing is going on out front. There is a Toast to the Laddies and a Toast to the Lassies. The pipers come out and play The Grand March which seems to go on for a very long time. That is followed by a walz.

The Immortal Memory is a speech on the life of Robert Burns. This year the talk was particularly interesting because they enhanced it with a power point presentation and bits of his poetry were read.
During one of our breaks I met blogger Mrs. Aych--in the bathroom! She recognized me from my photo on the blog and she knew I played in this band.

Later we came out to play some sets of tunes alternating with the dancers, performing the Highland Fling, Broad Sword, Hornpipe, and other traditional dances.

I always have to get a photo of my favorite wee one in his kilt. This is Heather and her little guy.

The evening ends with everyone holding hands and singing the most famous Burns tune of all, Auld Lang Syne. (Remember it is Syne with an "S", not Zine with a Z.)

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak' a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

So Happy Robert Burns Day, wherever you are!


KPiep said...

And Happy Robert Burns Day to you too! Sounds like a lot of fun!

Marie said...

Why I was just listening to an LP that had songs of Robert Burns. It was very enjoyable.
Hope your dinner was fantastic. I still have not tried haggis. Maybe someday.
How funny that you ran into Mrs H from I Like Yarn. It's such a small world.

Anonymous said...

When will the Peoria Scottish American Society hold the next Robert Burns day in 2011?

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