Happy birthday Robbie Burns!
What? Not sure who he is? Really!!
He is only the greatest Scot to ever live, at least based off of the election in 2009 run by STV and voted on by the Scottish people – as well as my own humble opinion? After all, he is the National Poet of Scotland.
Do you know Ae Fond Kiss, Sweet Afton, Ye Jacobites By Name? How about Rantin', Rovin' Robin, Rattlin' Roarin' Willie, Scots Wha Hae, or Highland Mary? A Red, Red Rose? Auld Lang Syne?
There we are. I knew it would hit eventually. After all, who doesn’t know Auld Lang Syne? It is only perhaps one of the most well known songs in the world. It has been translated into every language and is popularly sung on Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve, in almost every country. Yet, whether it is only because of his poetry, or how his views have affected even the political realm, Robert Burns is one of those amazing people that has undeniably left a lasting impact on this world in his short 37 years.
Born on January 25, 1759, to a self-educated tenant farmer, Robert lived a rough life; a life that would leave him with a premature stoop and a weakened constitution. Nevertheless, it was Robert Burns’ upbringing by William and Agnes Brown Burns and this life of a tenant farmer that shaped much of his writing his style – direct and filled with sincerity. His writing is also filled with a very grounded sense of humor, streaks of nationalism, and wonderful images.
He is also known for being one of the few poets to write in the Scottish language, as well as English and English with a Scots dialect. “He is often called a pre-Romantic poet for his sensitivity to nature, his high valuation of feeling and emotion, his spontaneity, his fierce stance for freedom and against authority, his individualism, and his antiquarian interest in old songs and legends” (poetryfoundation.org).
In celebration of this man’s life, his works and his commitment to freedom and individualism many people host what have become known as Burns Suppers. The first Burns Supper was held by Robert Burns’ friends on July 21, the anniversary of his death. Since then it was hosted by the Burns Club initially on January 29 in 1802, because that was what they initially had for his birthday. Yet, after looking into records a bit more in Ayr Parish they discovered his birthday was indeed January 25. Since then, they have hosted suppers on his real birthday and these events have spread throughout UK and into America.
While every Burns supper may have some differences, some are formal and some are not, there are some absolutes. There must always be haggis, Scotch whiskey, and poetry by the Scottish Bard himself, Robert Burns. Yet, if you are looking for more helpful hints here are a few sights to check out.
Enjoy your fine night of poetry, merrymaking, food, drink, and friendship!