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A cup of kindness for an American: Burns night

It’s that time of year again. Time to bring out the haggis, neeps, and tatties. Time to celebrate Oidhche na Taigeise. For those unfamiliar with Gaelic: Burns Night, the traditional supper commemorating Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. 

Now, to those not born in Alba, such as my Yankee self, this celebration may seem to be obscure or quirky. But alas, there is something in Burns Nicht for everyone, whether Scottish or not. Let me explain.

It was my first time celebrating a Burns Supper and I must say, it was an unforgettable experience. Let us start out with the Address to the Lassies (from the Laddies). Who doesn’t enjoy a good roast and a toast (and a rhyme)? It’s an entertaining series of good-spirited jests between friends about each other. 

Next, let’s tackle the always favorite amongst the foodies: The “Address to a Haggis”. Not just any haggis, but one as lang’s my arm. Now, I love a good haggis. In fact, I love anything with haggis in it: the spices, the texture, the fact that it seems to be an embodiment of Scottish culture in a digestible form. But don’t let this important victual overshadow the neeps and tatties, very important to complement the staple of the meal. Why, no feast would be complete without the veg, much less a meal at a Burns Supper. 

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But the blokes aren’t getting the final word this time. It’s time for the Reply to the Laddies (from the Lassies). The same as the Address to the Lassies, but in the other direction. Because, why not revel in a continuation of the lightheartedness? It’s always fascinating to see what one’s acquaintances have come up with.

But that’s not all folks. We still need a Ceilidh. Gay Gordons and Strip the Willow, two classics, are therefore very necessary. What better way to spend the night than to dance in traditional Scottish fashion into “The Wee Small Hours of the Morning”? May it be noted that the last tune mentioned was not included, for the event was not held at “The Jazz Bar.” Sorry Frank Sinatra.

So, however you celebrated, whether in a formal setting, or a small group of friends, I hope it was filled with comradery, merriment, poetry, and haggis. Until next year Laddies and Lassies: “Ae fond kiss, and then we sever”. Slainte Bheatha.

Illustration by Ruby Tait