Just like how the USA has many traditions and holidays to celebrate, so does the UK and Scotland. One of the unique holidays celebrated in Scotland is Robert Burns Day on January 25th. I was lucky enough to have three celebrations for Robbie this year!
Who is Robbie Burns? A Scotsman, a poet, a romanticist. He died at age 37, and was the father of 13 children. Yikes!
Whats the tradition? A supper which includes haggis (a savory pudding of sheep's heart, liver, lungs, and stomach), neeps (turnips), and tatties (potatoes). Click here to read about the tradition of the supper... but the three I attended were all different. The most important part of the tradition is the Address to a Haggis. Bagpipes are played while the Haggis is brought to the table on a plate. The Address to a Haggis is recited which includes stabbing the haggis with a knife.
On Friday mornings, I usually attend the AWA activity group where we play the American version of Mahjong for a couple of hours. It is pretty much the only thing I do that gives me a good headache from thinking so much. Anyway, our host for the January 25th group, Vicki, prepared Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties for lunch. In the form of tacos, which was pretty tasty!
I broke my terrible losing streak that day and got two Mahjongs... meaning I won two of the four games I played that day. Yay me!!
Our friends, Nary & Gerald (or Nerald for quickness) hosted a Burns Supper for a our friends that were available on the evening of January 25th. Many of our friends were attending their own Burns Supper for work, so the Pena's were nice enough to put something together for the rest of us. Nary was not so comfortable with cooking the Haggis, so our friends from Wales, Tash & James, did all of the cooking. Tash made haggis, veggie haggis, neeps and tatties. We also had guacamole, because, well... guacamole is yummy! The haggis was a hit! It is a shame that it gets such a bad wrap.
Luke's company hosts a Burns Supper every year. This year, the supper was a week after Burns Day, on February 1st. This is always a formal event, where the men wear their kilts and the ladies wear a nice dress with a tartan item. Before the dinner, our friends, Diane & Phil, hosted a cocktail party before we all jumped in taxis to the Ardoe House for the event.
The company attempted to follow the traditions of a Burns Supper as much as possible with grace, the Address, poems, the food, and dancing. Our group got lucky and all got to sit at the same table which was name Haggis :-) We had four courses with lots of wine and champagne. Our table was in the back, by a door leading outside and by the bar. Like I said, we got lucky!
After we ate dinner and had serious food babies in our tummies, we began the ceilidh dancing (click here to learn how to say ceilidh). Many of the dances involve skipping and swinging your partner round and round. Luckily, the band explained each dance before beginning, so everyone could get into it. It was really really fun! My feet were killing me after a few songs, and it was super hot in the room. I enjoyed a seat at our table with the door open for quite a while toward the end as I rested. It even snowed while we were there which made the night even better!
I am so glad Luke and I got to be a part of Burns Day while living in Aberdeen. I was two seconds away from getting teary-eyed at one point because we will not be a part of this day again. I had to stop myself and say, "Nope! Don't start that!" It is an amazing experience to join in the traditions of other countries and cultures, and we are so thankful for the opportunity. This was a fun one... one that I will never forget!
The formal attire for wearing a kilt includes:
-kilt (pleats in the back, high on the waist, knee length)
-belt (if no waistcoat)
-sporran ("purse", chain going through the loops, hangs four finger widths below top of the kilt)
-knee high socks (slightly folded down)
-flashes (match kilt)
-Sgian Dubh (bladeless knife, tucked into the side of the right sock)
-shoes (pulled around and tied in the front of the ankle)