Every year admirers of the legendary Scottish poet Robert Burns gather to celebrate his life and work on Burns Night.
During Burns Night, the man himself is commemorated with a traditional meal of haggis, neeps (Swedish porridge) and tatties (mashed potatoes) as well as recitations of his most famous works.
But what exactly is Burns Night, when is it – and who was Robert Burns?
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Who Was Robert Burns?
Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyric poet. Widely regarded as Scotland’s national poet, his fame and influence are worldwide.
Born in the village of Alloway, Ayrshire in 1759, Burns received little formal education and was instead tutored largely by his father, a farmer.
His most famous works include Auld Lang Syne and Address to a Haggis, the latter of which is recited at Burns’ dinner when the haggis is ceremonially cut.
Generally considered a pro-romantic poet, Burns influenced subsequent poets such as Wordsworth, Shelley, and Coleridge.
The cottage where Burns was born still exists today and is part of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway.
What is Burns Night?
Burns Night is held to celebrate the life and work of Robert Burns. Although Burns Dinners can take place at any time of the year, they usually take place on Burns Night itself.
In addition to the traditional haggis dinner, Burns dinners typically include drinking scotch whiskey and reciting Burns’ poems that end with a dance or a ceilidh.
Various toasts are given in the course of the evening, after which more Burns songs are sung and poems are recited.
When is Burns Night 2022?
Burns Night 2022 takes place on January 25th. Every year, this occasion is usually commemorated on or around this day, the poet’s birthday.
The first Burns memorial dinner was held by a group of his friends in July 1801 on the fifth anniversary of the poet’s death. In the same year the first Burns Club was founded in Greenock; its founders held the first Burns Night on January 29, 1802.
It was assumed that Burns’ birthday was on January 29th. However, the following year the Greenock Burns Club discovered Ayr Ward records showing that he was actually born on January 25th.
In January 2021, when the coronavirus pandemic was raging, the Burns Night celebrations were held online, with Burns lovers attending the celebrations from home.
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