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Burns Night is celebrated all over the world, you’d be surprised where you can find people having a “wee dram” at the end of January! For those of you who have never heard of Burns Night or don’t know much about it, we have put together a guide to Burns Night – Who, What, When and Where.
Robert (Rabbie) Burns was a 18th Century poet, born on the 25th January 1759 in Alloway, just two miles south of Ayr on the south-west coast of Scotland. His parents, William and Agnes were tenant farmers and worked hard to ensure their son had a good education. Burns became an avid reader and began to write poems and songs, mostly inspired by his romantic relationships. The hard labour on the farm didn’t suit Burns, who began to concentrate more on poetry, nature, drinking and women – a running theme throughout his work and life!
A difficult relationship with his refuted wife, Jean Armour, almost led to Burns emigrating to the West Indies with his lover, Mary Campbell. However, Mary died suddenly and Burns’ first published collection of work became a huge success, so he stayed in Scotland and married Jean. The couple had 9 children and Jean outlived Burns by 38 years. Burns died in July 1796 aged 37.
Burns Night is known these days as an excuse to “kilt-up” and head to a Ceilidh! It’s a celebration of the Immortal Memory of Rabbie Burns, people gather and enjoy a traditional menu and toast the Bard. But the origins date back to 1801, five years after Burns died, when nine men who knew him met for dinner at Burns Cottage to celebrate his life and great works. They enjoyed haggis and sang, recited and read the work of their late friend, toasting him with his own verse. They enjoyed it so much they planned to meet again on Robert Burns’ birthday in January and the occasion caught on in surrounding towns, with small groups of men, following the same format, creating Burns Supper Clubs of which many are still active today! The big boost to the popularity of the Burns Supper came when Sir Walter Scott organised a literary Burns Supper in Edinburgh in 1815 with Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd giving the Immortal Memory.
Burns Night is celebrated on (or close to) the 25th January, which was Robert Burns’ birthday. There are plenty of celebrations all over Edinburgh either side of the 25th, check out The List for some ideas.
The Dunstane, of course! A proper Scottish Burns Night is a celebration unlike anything you’ll experience anywhere else in the world. From the grand bagpiped entrance to the night’s final dram of whisky, it’s the most joyous, unusual and quintessentially Scottish way to spend an evening.
Join us on Friday 26 January 2018 for a Burns Night party that the poet himself would be proud of. There may also be a slightly sore head the next morning – but don’t worry; it’s what Rabbie would have wanted. Tickets are available either for the party only, or including a night’s luxury accommodation at Dunstane House.
For more details and to book, click here.