Saturday, January 24, 2009

Robbie Burns Night

Sunday is January 25th, and every good Scot knows that this is a grand holiday!
On this day we remember Robert Burns, Scotland's great poet!
We remember him with song, story, food and drink.
OK, so my relatives who aren't Mormon remember him with drink, I have to stop at the food part.

Who was this Robbie Burns?
If you've ever sung "Auld Lang Syne" on New Year's Eve you already know his works, but he did so much more! Burns is well loved for his lyrical ability to bring the Scots dialect to life.

Here is just the first stanza of "To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough" written in November, 1785

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

It's even better when spoken aloud!

Well, perhaps you're not a mouse fancier.
How about this well loved song, A Red, Red Rose.

O'my Luve's like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June:
O'my Luve's like the melodie, That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear, Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear, While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve! And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve, Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!

Brings a tear to your eye doesn't it?
Well, it better! It's one of my favorites!
That part about "And the rocks melt wi' the sun", that chokes me up like nothing else. Come now, you must have known I'm Scottish. With a name like Heather?? Tut tut.

What do we eat?
You may have heard tales of the food we serve on Robbie Burns night. Indeed it is a strange and awesome creation - the Haggis!

(I'm using an awful lot of exclamation points in this post, but it's only to keep myself from breaking into an awful Scottish accent that would have grandparents on both sides of my family rolling in their graves. Hah! We're Scots! They wouldn't just roll, they'd get up out of their graves and come over to whack me upside the head! Thus, the over use of exclamation points.)

The Haggis is a lovely warm and satisfying dish made from...
I see there are children present.
I'd best not say exactly what we make Haggis from.

Instead, let me introduce you to some Haggis lore, stolen - make that appropriated - from The Great Haggisclopedia which is kindly published on the web by the Scotsman Newspaper.

Here he is - the Golden Haggis himself!

Or, it maybe herself. They come in both varieties.

The Haggisclopedia is quick to dispell the myth that a haggis is just a sheep’s stomach stuffed with meat and oatmeal.
The most common mistaken belief about the haggis is that it is some kind of pudding made from sheep innards. This somewhat macabre idea dates back many centuries. Its origins lie in a Pictish fertility ceremony which featured a parade of creatures known to produce large numbers of offspring. The haggis was one such animal. However, as hunting techniques were not as sophisticated as they were then and - for reasons explained in The Haggis in Scotland’s History - haggis numbers were low, the Pictish priests often had to make do with a model for these ceremonies. Said model haggis was made from an inflated sheep bladder, hence the myth.

Also, they point out that there is no link between the Haggis and the Loch Ness Monster, no matter what the media would have you believe.

This is nonsense. Haggises are not aquatic. They are also extremely wary of any creature larger than them and would not consort with a large carnivore, even one supposed to be mythical. There is also nothing to suggest that there is any truth behind the rumour that swimming with haggises strapped to your feet will prevent monster attacks. There have been no recorded attacks on anyone by the Loch Ness monster, haggis attachments notwithstanding.

The great Haggis Hunt is on in Scotland, and the Scotsman newspaper kindly provides web cams showing various important areas in Scotland, on the chance that you might see a Haggis waddling by. Click here and you can look at Loch Ness, Gretna Green, Princes Street in Edinburgh, Buchanan Square in Glasgow and other interesting places. If you spot a haggis you can send them an email and be entered in the contest for a trip to Scotland!

Sadly, the Hunt ends on Robbie Burns Day, so you've probably missed your chance for this year.

I did catch a glimpse of one of the little rascals. Here he is, just as I saw him.

For those of you who aren't blessed to be of Scottish descent, don't worry, you're still welcome to come and enjoy Robbie Burns night. Head over to my place and we'll raise a glass in his honor. (Probably filled with cran-grape juice.)



The Bui's said...

You are adorable. I think I will talk like a scottsman for the rest of the day.