Go Fetch Me a Pint

There is nothing more attractive to me than a big, burly Scotsman dressed in a kilt.

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Scratch that.

There is nothing more attractive to me than a big, burly Scotsman dressed in a kilt and holding a glass of single malt scotch.

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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.

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BINGO.

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.

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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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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 …

  1. 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).

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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.

Slàinte!

~Shelley

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.

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104 thoughts on “Go Fetch Me a Pint

  1. You have just put a whole new twist on the celebrating of RB’s birthday and Burns Night! I always thought it was a group of old fuddy-duddy’s or learned poetic types engaging in learned discussions on the merits and meaning behind ‘Address to the Toothache’ [for instance] I live in a city that has a strong Scottish connection. Billy Connelly once did an hilarious bit on why the Scots chose this place to settle. There is a lone statue of Robbie Burns placed atop a high hill over looking the inner harbour one way and the wild southern Pacific the other. I never understood why – maybe now I do. It was to make sure he couldn’t seduce any of the city’s maidens and the Burns Night participants had somewhere well away from civilisation to – errrr, celebrate and toast him. Thanks for the heads up 🙂

    • If you walk into a Burns Supper and the place is filled with cigar smoke, you see no women and only some old geezer at a podium speaking in monotone, MAKE AN ABOUT FACE! Or make a disgusted face and then turn around. Just get on outta there. Burns Nites done well are events you’ll remember forever and talk about ad nauseum (after you get over the nauseum of the actual Burns Nite!).
      I hope you eventually attend one, Pauline. They’re truly wonderfully worth it!

    • I’ve learned a lot today, both from you, Pauline and from Shelley. I loved Scotland. My dad was British, and when I started my travels I landed there and hung out for awhile. I didn’t feel welcome. Then I arrived in Scotland. Everyone I met was warm, friendly and inviting. I was stunned at such a different vibe. I hope to go back one day. There is so much to explore and I had but a small taste. Then I’m heading to New Zealand for a true Burns Night.

  2. Appreciate the strategically placed purse on your Scotsman.

    Here, here to a grand poet and ladies’ man born 197 years and 363 before me. Hope that BS proffered the hoped for glass of single malt. Happy birthday to Rabbie.

    • Ah yes, I once heard a Scotsman tell me that his sporran’s purpose was meant to hold a few treasures and hide a multitude of evils. I did not ask for further explanation.
      I shall raise a glass with you in toast. Slainte!

    • Really happy you enjoyed it, Clare. I’m going to guess that with all the busy travel, you might not have a shot at finding or hosting a dinner yourselves. I shall sing an extra verse of happy birthday in your stead and have a sip of tipple on your behalf.
      Safe travels to you both!

  3. My parties sound really dull compared to this! I guess the Polish do not know how to party properly! Awesome post and I agree with A.PROMPTreply, the drawings are awesome! Wish I could draw!

    • Uh oh, all I’m hearing now are my Polish relatives hurriedly scraping back their chairs from the table and sprinting for their own swords and shields. You have laid down the gauntlet. Maybe it was just the Poles in the Midwest where I grew up, but you couldn’t finish a wedding unless you were at least 3-5 days into the celebration. Food and music and so much pasty white skinned people with nearly unpronounceable names. I used to tell my friends to just give up on trying to get my own last name correct and suggested they simply sneeze and add a “ski” to the end of it. Close enough.
      So now’s your chance. Throw a Polish Burns Nite.
      Serve sausage and Żubrówka.

  4. I take it you have the husband dressed in a kilt for the night just in case there are no rampant Scotsmen on the loose. After all, someone has to hand you the single malt Shelley.
    Slainte
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Ah David, if there are no rampant Scotsmen on the loose, I quickly bid adieu to my host and find the nearest pub. One MUST locate a ceilidh for this night, and the unbridled fervor of a warrior occasionally tamed by balladry. The hunt is always worthy. 😛
      xxooxx

    • I hope he’s booked for a gig tonight–or at least able to blow the cobwebs out of the pipes for the evening somewhere at home. Bagpipes are truly my favorite instrument. Lucky girl you are.
      Happy Burns Day to you too, Cheergerm!

      • Sadly, Mr Bagpipes is recuperating from a wee ear operation at our house and canna blow his nose, so the bagpipes are out. I hope your celebrations were, as the kids say, epic!

        • I suggest you offer him up a dram of cask strength. That’ll not only clear the cobwebs out of all internal pipes, but he’ll get to mark off the need for seeing the dentist this year as well. That stuff’ll scrape the tartar off your teeth.
          Wish him better. 🙂

  5. Lovety post Shelley and cracking drawings too of course! I’ve always had a soft spot for the Scots and Scotland – wild ruggedness gets me every time and the scenery’s not bad too – apparently I can lay claim to a Scottish great grandma and I was even married on the Isle of Islay with a wee reception at the Ardbeg distillery afterwards but I’m sorry to say I’ve never attended a real Burns Nite! I can however conjure up the occasion perfectly now after your wonderful description! Slainte! 😀

    • You were married on Islay?? This island is the place my heart calls home. Although I must play favorites with Bruichladdich–as I did a wee apprenticeship there–Ardbeg’s tiny cafe has served me some of the best Scottish food I’ve ever tasted. I feel suctioned to every curve of this hunk of land. I bet your day was truly moving, Jane. And I hope someone with a few half-decent skills was holding a camera to capture all those moments for you.
      Here’s to finding your first Burns Supper–anywhere in the world. (I think you’d find it film worthy. 😛 )

      • Amazing! I thought you’d be bound to know it well! We were married in front of the celtic cross at Kildalton church and had “Clootie Dumpling’ and single malt for our wedding ‘tea’ – just me, MrH, the vicar, his wife and my teddy bear!

  6. I once attended a Scottish wedding at the northern tip. We were American Navy sailors stationed there, and a couple decided to do get hitched in the Scottish tradition. In a small white church on the cliffs the bag pipes keened and the salty spray tingled. Or maybe it was all the kilts around me. And the whiskey. What a lovely ceremony. Great post as usual, Shelley. 🙂

    There’s nane that’s blest of human kind,
    But the cheerful and the gay, man,
    Fal, la, la, &c.

    Here’s a bottle and an honest friend!
    What wad ye wish for mair, man?
    Wha kens, before his life may end,
    What his share may be o’ care, man?

    Then catch the moments as they fly,
    And use them as ye ought, man:
    Believe me, happiness is shy,
    And comes not aye when sought, man.

  7. We have our haggis and neeps ready and waiting (I do love haggis!) but will be celebrating tomorrow as our eldest is coming home from university for something called n Inter-semester break. He’s bringing home a new girlfriend, who is Portuguese, so what she’ll make of it all I don’t know. No doubt we’ll be raising a glass of something or other to the old scoundrel this evening, though. 🙂

    Robb’s cartoons had me giggling as usual. The first three reminded me of an uncle who hailed from Arisaig, who spoke fluent Gaelic and never lost his accent despite several decades in the south of England and then Australia. 🙂

    • YES!! So happy to hear about your dinner. I hope the lovely lady joins in readily with the revery. My brother (he’s a chef) once flew here to cook a massive Burns dinner with me and because we had gobs of folks who had never had a traditional haggis before–and I didn’t want them dashing out as we were bringing it in–he made it with ground venison and onions, encased it within a hash brown crust and covered it with a green peppercorn whisky cream sauce. Oh my.
      And I grow weak in the knees with a true Scottish brogue. (I think most Scotsmen realize they have this effect, so the diction grows stronger the farther away from home they get.) 😛

      • I do love traditional haggis but that version sounds great too. Your chef brother is Stoshu, is that right? He sounds like a brilliant brother to have if he can rustle up such a feast.
        I completely agree with you about Scottish brogues. 🙂

  8. My O My you certainly put a whole different slant on old Robbie Burns. I have heard of Burns Night. I have a wee bit of knowledge about him and his escapades. I mean any man who dedicates a bit of prose to a food dish is certainly jake with me. But I must say that I had no idea he was such a randy fellow. Twelve kids? He sounds like a modern day rock star. Well in a way I guess he was the equivalent for the time period. Now I have an incredible urge to visit MacNivens and have some haggis and a wee bit of the water of life. Oh and once again Robin has hit a home run with his drawings. Burns night. Now that does indeed sound like fun. Has anyone looked into his death as a other than natural event? I mean I have been married 4 times so I can understand emotions running high at certain times, but I only had two sons and none were illegitimate. Just sayin’ 37 is pretty young for death by “heart disease”.

    • Precisely! Heart disease, my Aunt Fanny.
      And Benson, four times? I had no idea you were such a romantic.
      I hope you do find a supper to attend one of these years. You of all people would adore the food–as long as it’s handled by someone who knows their way around an animal nose to tail. Delish!
      Here’s to you at least raising a glass of whatever remains in your bottle tonight. Slainte!

  9. Flipping brilliant, or very braw as we mostly never say here in Scotland.
    First off – I didn’t realise my husband has been doing some life modelling for Rob. Rob’s certainly captured his likeness with more hair round the sides of his head than on top of it. And the old man will certainly pour and hand you a whisky as he prefers beer and red wine – though not necessarily in the same glass.

    I blogged about Rabbie this week too, but not with so much humour. The best Burns Suppers I’ve attended are the ones where a whole community is involved – for example a supper organised by a primary or high school. It’s often the children who are the most entertaining – reciting or singing the bard’s work. I loved taking part like this when I was a child.

    My favourite Burns’ work is ‘A Man’s a Man for A’ That’ and what it says about equality and tolerance amongst human beings was never more relevant than it is today.

    A great post, as always Shelley. I now bestow honorary Scottish citizenship upon you.

    Slainte Mhath – enjoy your wee dram. 🙂

    • And what a welcome sight to see, Anne. Your husband fits the bill.
      ‘A Man’s a Man for A’ That’ is a brilliant piece, and I agree, very timely. Have you seen Sheena Wellington sing it for the opening of Scottish Parliament last year? Here’s the youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hudNoXsUj0o It’s so moving–especially when everyone begins to sing along. Wow.
      My favorite part of the night is usually the Lassies’ Reply–the more tart the better. How I envy you to have this rich tradition available at your fingertips. And how beguiling to hear youthful voices sweetly reciting the lovely verses.
      Lastly, my warmest thanks for the membership. I shall cherish it always. ❤

  10. PS I also meant to say – -the ‘purse’ or sporran worn with the kilt was originally for soldiers to keep their porridge in. I know sounds disgusting – but it’s true – a slab of cold porridge kept them fuelled up and ready for action. 🙂

  11. Reblogged this on Put it in Writing and commented:
    In view of my own post earlier this week on Robert Burns, I just had to post this funnier, wittier one by the amazing Shelley Sackier over at Peak Perspective blog. If you don’t already follow her, then do yourself a favour and remedy that omission right now. She’s brilliant and the cartoon illustrations that accompany her writing done by the very talented Rob Gott just enrich an already first-class blog.
    Enjoy…

    • Thank you, thank you, Anne–not simply for the reposting, but for all the lovely things you said.
      I cannot wait to read your own post about the event. You’ve always got so many witty bits to sink my teeth into.
      I send you a massive internet hug. *squish*

  12. Slainte, Shelley! Thanks for the history – I had no idea Burns was so prolific in other ways. 🙂 I am Scottish on my mother’s side from generations ago, but we’ve lost any traditions over time. It seems I should bring out the tartan today. Enjoy your party!

    • Definitely wrap yourself in wool, Sue. And then once your outside warmth is anchored and pinioned, give a quick nod to the inside bits. Having a wee dram is akin to securing a miniature furnace in your belly. Cheers!

    • It’s true, some poetry can be challenging to interpret and latch on to. But in the right hands, I’m always gobsmacked at the level of talent some folks have with picking perfect words and putting them in the right order.
      Here’s to grandad. Cheers!

  13. Reblogged this on Rose Bay Letters and commented:
    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! – Address to the Haggis, Robbie Burns

  14. I’m a happily married woman but when we are in Scotland I feel myself ‘swoon’ at the sight of a man in a kilt. We even have friends here in the middle of Australia who own ‘dress kilts’ and who have been known to pour a wee dram or two in honour of Rabbie! Fun and informative Shelley, up to your usual standard!! xx

    • Well, if those fine fellows are anything remotely similar to their relations in the North, they’re likely pouring a wee dram or two in honor of every Rabbie they run into. And every Clancy, Ned and Banjo too.
      So glad you liked the post, Ardys. Cheers! xo

  15. I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that Burnsie sired twelve children before he was 37. Darwin would approve. Charming pics this time, BTW! I would like to be offered a wee dram by Ewan McGregor, even though he is not particularly burly.

  16. “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.”

    I had a crazy good laugh at that…. what a fun holiday! It makes me wonder why Casanova never got his own holiday. 😉 Or maybe he does, and I’m just ignorant, haha.

    Have a drink on me, though I’ll leave the poetry to your husband!

    • I suppose Valentine’s Day is as close as we get with the great libertine, but I’m all for adding new festivals to the myriad mass we already have inked in on the calendar.
      And yes, I’ll raise a toast in your honor. Or two. Maybe three for good luck.
      😛

  17. shelley, one day i’ll be in the upper echelon of these comments, hopefully. but i often save your posts to read when there’s time to linger because sometimes there’s a comment worthy of note – ‘a bottle and a friend. brilliant.

    so maybe i’ll always be late to your parties, that way i can’t leave early!

    • I think you’ve nailed the perfect time (and method) for how to enjoy this blog and squeeze the most entertainment out of it. I believe the community of commentators here are equally as winning as any agreeable post we produce. And I’m so glad you continue to show up. Better late than never. Your company and comments are always warmly welcomed!
      (Now how bout a hand with the dishes?)

  18. I truly enjoyed your post, Shelley!
    This year, we were celebrating Rabbie Burns for the 10th time at home, in very good company. The Burns night – I shouldn’t perhaps say so – is for me the best night of the year. And once again, this one was magnificent!
    And knowing that some many people in the world celebrate it at the same time… What a fantastic party…!

    Slàinte!
    Frédéric

    • It doesn’t surprise me in the least, Frédéric, that you would host a spectacular Burns Nite. I can only imagine the careful selection of malts that must have accompanied your meal. Lucky guests.
      Here’s to shared loves. It helps to shrink this vast planet of ours and bring special people closer together.
      Slàinte!

  19. I read this over the weekend on my phone, where I’ve learned never to leave comments. The internet swallows them whole. Glad I waited, as the comments that follow are sure to entertain.

    I’m really living a naive world over here as I knew none of this. Thanks for introducing me to Burns Night. Your version sounds like a blast.

    Rob, love the colorful doodles. You’re always good for a smile.

    • Well, I’d have to say that the reason you’ve not heard one iota of info on Burns Nite is because you are likely much too civilized to participate in celebrating some of the more tawdry talents of Rabbie’s tongue. Of course, if you find yourself at a well-behaved event, then the recitations will be sedate and sophisticated, and I suggest you bring along two toothpicks with which to prop open your eyelids. The suppers run the spectrum from poetry supper to poetry slam to poetry slam dunk (or drunk I suppose). You have to do a little research.
      I can only imagine, Alys, that you would have a delightful time no matter which event you find yourself supping at. 😀

  20. azzizz phreekwent, i am late to the pardy. un-4t-u-natelee, we in the w. colo raw dough desert are far from civiliz ~ & miss doubt on this burns nite thingy. but THE SPIRIT in whatever form hides, springs forth, transmutes, and perhaps i was on a different sighed of a similar quoin, grinning (like a mild-mannered loonatick) about something else …

  21. Pingback: Imbolc | Scribbler's Playhouse

    • Oh, good god, you lucky fellow. I’d have loved to play in an Irish band. The absolute joy and soulfulness of that music never fails to amaze me. Glad you liked the piece. A million thanks for reading it. Slainte!

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