Robbie Burns Day Celebration Ideas

January 25 Robbie Burns Day

Renowned Scottish poet Robbie Burns is remembered and celebrated on his birthday, January 25th. Robbie Burns was born in 1759 and died in 1796.  Robbie Burns Day is celebrated traditionally with bagpipes, eating Haggis, drinking whiskey and reciting his poetry. Here are some great ideas to hold your own Robbie Burns Day Celebration.

Invitations: Ask guests to dress in kilts and tartans if they have it, plaid if they don’t.


Chairman: The celebration is presided over by the “chairman” (usually the host or hostess) who acts as a sort of facilitator. The Chairman gives the “Address to the Haggis”, a speech to the Immortal Memory of Robbie Burns, opening and closing remarks, and helps keeps things flowing, inviting guests to sing and read Burns poems.

Menu: Traditionally the meal includes Cock-a-leekie soup, Neeps an Tatties (mashed potatoes and rutabagas served separately), Haggis, Scottish Trifle. The menu can be expanded with other items like roast beef if you like. Haggis can be picked up at a butcher’s and is a mixture of oatmeal and sheep intestines and other less often used cuts. You can find great vegetarian haggis recipes and Cock-a-leekie soup and Scottish Trifle recipes on line. Use Tartan Plaid Tableware.

Meal: Begin with reciting The Selkirk Grace:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some would eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Start with soup. Then all stand as the Haggis is brought to the table with the Parade of the Haggis, accompanied by the playing of bagpipes. If you don’t have pipers you can use a CD or have guests use their pinched noses to make bagpipe impersonation sounds. When the Haggis arrives the Chairman reads the Address to a Haggis:

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm :
Weel are ye wordy o’a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,*

(* This is normally the point at which the haggis is cut open.)

Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin’, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer
Gie her a haggis!

Enjoy your meal and keep the whiskey flowing.

Evening Gathering: Spend the evening reading Robby Burns poems and singing. Encourage guests to speak using their best approximation of a Scottish Accent. In the middle of your festivities; stop to have a speech to the Immortal Memory of Robbie Burns. Prepare a serious and flamboyant speech praising Robbie Burns.


Toast to the Lassies: Take time to make a light hearted toast to the lassies alluding to excesses and flaws in a humorous way. The women reply to the toast, giving a Reply from the Lassies, in a similar lighthearted nature.

Closing Remarks: End your Festivities with the Chairman making a few closing remarks thanking your guests for coming. Guests reciprocate by toasting and thanking you for the invitation.

Auld Lang Syne: Finish by singing Auld Lang Syne


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