There is nothing more attractive to me than a big, burly Scotsman dressed in a kilt.
There is nothing more attractive to me than a big, burly Scotsman dressed in a kilt and holding a glass of single malt scotch.
Oops. One more go at this.
There is nothing more attractive to me than a big, burly Scotsman dressed in a kilt, holding a glass of single malt scotch and offering it to ME.
And the great thing about January 25th is that my chances of seeing this attractive vision unfold increases monumentally all because of one charming fellow.
Who happens to be dead.
Nonetheless, Robert Burns is still remembered, admired and hailed around the world. His birthday is celebrated in ways that likely have him wishing he could be there and glad that he is not. It all depends upon what party you end up attending.
So let me explain …
Ole Rabbie Burns was born on January 25th, 1759 in the southwestern part of Scotland in the village of Alloway. His folks were farmers, and as most farmers barely have two farthings to rub together, they rubbed together that which they did have—each other. Robert had six other siblings—plenty of hands to lighten the load—which might have been the reason Robert had time to read and write.
And chase girls.
Lots of them.
Once his father passed away, Robert and his brother took over the family farm. At this point it seems Rabbie may have asked himself some questions about the direction he wanted to take with his life.
“Would I prefer to be writing up the yearly farm accounts or writing down poetry? Better yet, would I rather be watering the land, or down at the local watering hole?” And finally, “Should I choose to sow seeds into the soil, or into all of the bonnie women I can catch?”
It was clear Robert excelled with whatever was behind door number two—which was usually him and some other lass.
His poetry was oftentimes meant to impress the fairer sex, in order to have sex.
And lest you think I’m pulling your chain, let me provide some proof: our lustful lyricist had a total of TWELVE CHILDREN by FOUR WOMEN. Seven were illegitimate, because, well … after a while you stop counting. They just become stock.
It seems the old bard knew how to make his quill sing.
*ahem* (and a few others’ too)
Okay, back to celebrating someone’s birthday and not conquests.
Once Burns finally kicked the bucket—at the tender age of 37, from what was apparently reported as “heart disease,” although there were plenty of folks who stated that whisky and women contributed to his demise—his cronies decided to carry on the tradition of celebrating his birthday with a yearly tribute: booze, women, food and okay, fine, poetry.
If you were to cast a wide net, chances are you’ll find a Burns Supper happening somewhere within spitting distance. As long as you’re a champion spitter. But the circle grows smaller each year.
Lots of folks love whisky, everyone loves food, and a couple of folks even like poetry. There you have it. The makings of a Burns Night.
There really are only a few ingredients necessary for its success:
- FOOD: All things Scottish—if you’re attempting to be truly authentic. So, neeps and tatties (smushed up turnips and potatoes), cock-a-leekie soup (chicken and leeks, not leaking roosters!), haggis (most of you do not want to know), and cranachan or cream clowdie (this is just a hot mess of oatmeal, cream, sugar and whisky—breakfast for highland savages).
- MUSIC: Make friends with a bagpiper. Tell him to bring an extra lung or a tank of O2 because it’ll be a long night.
- POETRY: Or any good storytelling material. Have your guests tell a joke, recite their favorite piece of prose—authored by Burns or any other great odist, or share a memory of when they too were a drunken, sex-depraved, Scottish lad.
And finally, but most importantly …
- WHISKY: The more you imbibe, the better the food becomes, the more appealing the music grows and everyone becomes a balladeer capable of reciting rhapsodic soliloquies (insert roll of eyes here).
The point is to enjoy a night of all the things that delight our senses, but unlike any other holiday, you may bring your broadsword and claymore to the dinner table.
Burns Night Suppers are usually long and lewd, reeling and risqué, and require two aspirin and a taxi at their completion.
They are worthy and memorable events, and I can’t encourage you enough to source out a local shindig in your area. Or be brave and throw the dinner together yourself. After all, attending a Burns Night is your best chance for running into a big burly Scotsman, dressed in a kilt and holding a glass of single malt scotch. Whether or not he’s going to offer it up to you is something you may have to negotiate. My advice? Hum a few bars of Auld Lang Syne and see if he warms to you.
Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.