Monday, January 25, 2010

Robert Burns Day

Robert Burns was born in Scotland on January 25, 1759 and died on July 21, 1796. He is also known as Rabbie Burns, Scotland's favourite son, the Ploughman Poet, the Bard of Ayrshire and in Scotland as simply The Bard. He was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a "light" Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these pieces, his political or civil commentary is often at its most blunt.

As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) Auld Lang Syne is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and Scots Wha Hae served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country. Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well-known across the world today include A Red, Red Rose; A Man's A Man for A' That; To a Louse; To a Mouse; The Battle of Sherramuir; Tam o' Shanter, and Ae Fond Kiss.

Burns Night, effectively a second national day, is celebrated on 25 January with Burns suppers around the world, and is still more widely observed than the official national day, Saint Andrew's Day. The first Burns supper in The Mother Club in Greenock was held on what they thought was his birthday on 29 January 1802, but in 1803 they discovered from the Ayr parish records that the correct date was 25 January 1759. The format of Burns suppers has not changed since. The basic format starts with a general welcome and announcements, followed with the Selkirk Grace. After the grace, comes the piping and cutting of the haggis, where Burns' famous Address To a Haggis is read and the haggis is cut open. The event usually allows for people to start eating just after the haggis is presented. This is when the reading called the "immortal memory", an overview of Burns' life and work, is given; the event usually concludes with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

The Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae the Lord be thankit.

Some have food and cannot eat,
And some would eat that lack it (food),
But we have food and we can eat,
So the Lord be thanked.

For those who follow the epic saga that is the story of Jamie and Claire, the Battle of Culloden took place on April 16, 1746. In 1758, William Ransome, 9th Earl of Ellesmere, was born. Hopefully that puts the life of Robert Burns into a bit of perspective.

Many thanks to my loyal readers for indulging me - some day The Little Prince will read this and I want him to know what was important to his mummy. Many thanks also to Wikipedia for always making me sound smarter than I really am.
Have a fabulous day!


Ozfemme said...

my aunt once pointed out a connection to him on a rather large, hard to follow family-tree diagram she'd spent many years travelling, researching and painstakingly boring us all to tears with. I always thought I'd find out I was related to Kevin Bacon though. Interesting post,. Oh, and nice to meet you. Bella.

Scottish Twins said...

Happy Robert Burns Day!

I should have made haggis tonight ;)