Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Scottish Celebration: Robert Burns Turns 252!

Who better to share a birthday with?
I don't often need much encouragement to talk about Scotland or how infatuated I am with the country. Even after living there for a year, I'm still as drawn to it as I was the first time I set foot on Scottish soil. That being said, it is no coincidence that Robert Burns' Birthday--also known as 'Burns Night'--falls on the same day as my birthday: today.

I prefer to think of it as a sign that Scotland and I will always be meant for each other. If you're thinking that Burns Night is only celebrated in Scotland, though, think again! Burns Night is celebrated worldwide with traditional Burns suppers. No matter where you may be on this January 25, I hope you can take the time to honor one of Scotland's most celebrated poets with your own Burns Night, or at the very least, a reading of The Address to Haggis. Even if you don't have the actual Haggis on hand (sadly, I'm in the same boat) I'm sure Mr. Burns will nonetheless appreciate the thought.

For those of you unfamiliar with Robert Burns (aka "Scotland's Favorite Son"), he is recognized as the national poet of Scotland who was known for writing in the Scots language. His work as both a poet and lyricist made him a pioneer of his time and it continues to influence the modern world. Whether it's the patriotic song, Scots Wha Hae, or his political commentary on class inequalities, Burns was a genuinely talented and insightful figure. The literary world would be the lesser without him.

The Burns supper - haggis, neeps, tatties & whisky
If you've started clicking on the links I've embedded and aren't sure Haggis even sounds appetizing, I encourage you to put your palette to the test. Sure, a combination of ground up sheep's "pluck" (heart, liver and lungs) might not initially sound appetizing, but you'd be surprised how tasty it actually is. As for me, it's a meal I wouldn't mind eating every day of the year.

So before the day is out, remember to raise your dram of Scotch whisky to a man whose accomplishments we continue to celebrate--even at the ripe old age of 252! I can't imagine my own birthday will be celebrated that far into the future, but it's a goal at least. To further encourage your participation in Burns Night, I've attached a video below from my study abroad trip in which my Scottish flatmate and good friend, Mr. Alan Smith, gave a fabulous performance in the Address to Haggis speech.

Alba gu brath :)