A man’s a man

I love Robert Burns, and not just because he wrote ‘Auld Lang Syne’. But for his other works too, such as ‘To a Louse’, and ‘A man’s a man’. These poems reminds us that we are all equal, regardless of how we see our standing in the world.

After ‘Auld Lang Syne’, the most famous of Burn’s works, I imagine, is ‘To a haggis’. There are many tales as to why Burns wrote ‘To a haggis’. My favourite among them is the story that Burn’s wrote it for a farmer friend, who used to serve it every time they dined together, but was ashamed that this was all that he could serve. Burn’s wrote it in tribute to his friend. Whether this story is fact or fiction will always be in question, but why I like it so much is because it speaks of the importance of friendship, and how it didn’t matter what was on the table, it was the friendship that mattered. Perhaps that is why I like Burn’s night so much.

Each year, on 25th January, Scots come together to celebrate ‘the Baird’s’ birthday, more commonly known as Burn’s night. It is here that guests are served haggis, neeps (turnip) and tatties (potatoes), and other Scottish treats.

For me, Burn’s night is a great opportunity for us Scots and our friends to come together to celebrate our heritage.  This year my brother and I hosted an early Burn’s night for our English housemates.

We wanted to give them the full Scottish experience, and no, that doesn’t mean feeding them deep fried mars bar. Dinner began with oatcakes, blinis, creme fraiche and salmon. This was to warm us up for the main star of the evening, the haggis. We didn’t pipe it in, but my brother did wonderfully recite ‘To a haggis’ from memory. No small feat, I could barely remember the first 2 lines! We served it the traditional way, as it should be served: haggis, neeps and tatties.  The meal was rounded off with one of my favourite deserts, cranachan. This doesn’t sound nice, but I assure you, mixing oats with cream, honey and whisky, layered between raspberries, with shortbread on the side is one tasty desert.

We just about had room for some more oatcakes, cheese and grapes, while Scottish music played quietly in the background, ranging from the Corries to some more recent famous Scots including Paolo Nutini and the Proclaimers.

It was a lovely Burn’s night, where we raised several glasses, giving toasts to friendship, the year ahead and many more nights like this one.

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