On the 25th of January, every year, millions of people all over the world gather to celebrate Scotland at Burns Night Suppers. This is the nearest thing that Scots and people of Scottish heritage, have to what might be called a “National Day”. Scotland doesn’t have a National Day, because, it isn’t a nation; it’s a principality of the United Kingdom, just like Wales, and Northern Ireland. Of course, this year, on September 18th to be precise, the Scots will go to the polls to determine their fate when they vote in a referendum on whether to stay or leave, the United Kingdom
Many, if not most of you have never been to a Burns Supper, which is a pity because they are a hoot. I’ve been to as many as I could, down through the years and frankly, I hate to miss them. So, let me tell you all about what happens at a Burns Supper.
As the participants begin to arrive, you’ll notice that many of the men have either taken the opportunity to indulge in the fantasy to wear their wives’ clothing, or they’re sporting a kilt. As a former elementary teacher I once went to school on a Multi-Cultural Day, wearing my kilt for my class of second graders. Later, over lunch in the cafeteria, I overhead some third grade bully trying to intimidate one of my second graders with his “Ha ha, your teacher, he wearin’ a dress!”. My kid, quick as flash, rallied to my defense and cried out “He aint wearin’ no dress. He wearin’ a quilt!”. I was so proud of the lad for taking up for me.
Anyway, back to the party. As I said, lots and lots of men take the trouble to dress up in the full Scottish regalia, and I must stay, they cut a fine dash. ‘Tis like being on the set of Brigadoon, or Braveheart. The women also make a special effort to wear some tartan, or plaid as some of you call it, only don’t call it plaid in Scotland since technically speaking “plaid” is an item of clothing, not so much the patterned cloth.
Once we’ve all assembled, usually near the bar, ‘tis then time to sample a wee dram – a little Scotch. Speaking as an Irishman, I don’t mind drinking Scotch, so long as I don’t have to pay for it. So, if you want to encourage me to have a wee drop of Scotch, I’ll gladly take you up on the offer and I’ll insist on a blended whiskey as opposed to the far more expensive, single malts. I find single malts to be terribly overrated. Once we’ve partaken of a libation or two, we can expect to be hearing the strains of the bagpipes any minute now. Stirring stuff that. The piper leads a procession, at the head of which, is the honored guest: the haggis. Ah, nothing like some stuffed sheep’s stomach. Delicious. A toast must be made to the haggis using Burns’ poetry, then there’s a toast to America and after a lovely meal, we get down to business – dancing! I really love Scottish dancing because it’s so accessible and simple to participate in. And you’ll love it too. So, why not consider coming along for an evening of whiskey, poetry, dancing and exotic foods. I guarantee you’ll have a mighty night out. You don’t have to dress up and you don’t even have to be Scottish. You could even be English! Feel free to contact me for further details.
Brian O’ Nuanain runs “Across The Pond And Beyond”, a company that organizes international vacations. You can reach him at acrossthepondandbeyond.com