It's Burns Night!

Kilt-Clad Scots, Scottish Americans, and Scots at Heart Celebrate with Haggis, Whisky, and Poetry in Honor of the National Poet of Scotland

Jan 25, 2013, 10:11 ET from Scottish Government

SCOTLAND, Jan. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- It's that time of year again, dig out the tartan and dust off the Toast to the Lassies: it's Burns Night. On January 25 each year, Scots and Scots-at-heart around the world raise a glass to the memory of Bard Robert Burns, as they prepare to pipe in the famous haggis.

Yes, the National Poet of Scotland has his own annual celebration, one of a festive quartet of Scottish winter holidays including St. Andrews Day, Christmas, Hogmanay, and Burns Night. Burns Night is much more than the same old stanzas and rhymes. Kilt-clad Scots and Scottish Americans celebrate the day with a traditional Burns Night Supper, tableside bagpiping, the reading of the "Address to a Haggis" (which opens the meal), whisky, and much more to pay tribute to the legendary bard.

"Burns Night is a great opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate the writings of Scotland's national poet," says Scottish Government Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop. "His works are recognized around the world and his humanity, wit, wisdom and humor are expressed in poetry, writing and song which still has the power to move and touch millions."

A traditional Burns Night Supper features haggis, a savory pudding that usually contains sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs) mixed with spices and marinated in an animal's stomach casing. Side dishes include "neeps" (mashed turnips) and "tatties" (minced beef and mashed potatoes). While dining, Burns enthusiasts recite the Bard's best works to the sounds of bagpipes. The first suppers were held in Scotland at the end of the eighteenth century by Robert Burns' friends and 2013 will mark the 254th anniversary of his birthday

With millions of Americans claiming Scottish ancestry, there are innumerous local Burns Suppers and festivities taking place around the country, with New York City, Boston, Atlanta, and Chicago being hotbeds of Scottish celebrations. Looking to plan your own Burns Supper? Visit If haggis isn't your thing, try out the "Rhyme with Rabbie" online game,

Robert Burns was about much more than haggis and "Auld Lang Syne," which is considered one of the top three most popular songs in the English language. And there's not many people who can claim Michael Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and Bob Dylan as fans, but Robert Burns can! The Bard penned some of Scotland's most descriptive and evocative prose, accepted around the world for his inspirational and moving writing style. "Tam-o-Shanter," "To A Mouse," "A Man's A Man for a' That," and "A Red, Red Rose" are amongst some of his more popular poems.

To celebrate the Bard's birthday, here are few fun facts about Robert Burns:

  • After Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, Robert Burns has more statues dedicated to him around the world than any other non-religious figure.
  • J.D. Salinger's famous 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye based its title from a poem by Robert Burns "Comin' Thro' the Rye."
  • Bob Dylan selected Burns' 1794 song "A Red, Red Rose" when asked for the source of his greatest creative inspiration.
  • John Steinbeck took the title of his 1937 novel Of Mice and Men from a line contained in Burns' poem "To a Mouse:" "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley."
  • A miniature book of Robert Burns' poetry was carried into orbit by astronaut Nick Patrick on a two-week space mission in 2010, completing a 5.7-million mile trip and 217 orbits of the Earth. 
  • Robert Burns produced over 550 songs and poems. That averages at around 25 works for each year of his adult life (Burns passed away at 37).

There's plenty more to learn about Robert Burns online at and follow @AboutScotland for real-time updates on Burns Night events near and far.

Scotland's Winter Festivals

Scotland's Winter Festivals begin with St Andrew's Day on 30th November and includes Scotland's Hogmanay celebrations on 31st December, culminating with Burns night on 25th January. Events and celebrations will begin on the weekend leading to St Andrew's Day (November 26 and 27), running through Christmas and Hogmanay until Burns Night.

For information on Scotland's Winter Festivals and Scotland's culture, including ideas for hosting your own Hogmanay party or Burns Supper, to the origins of Hogmanay and information on what is happening near you can be found:

Scotland's Winter Festivals is funded and delivered by the Scottish Government in partnership with EventScotland, VisitScotland, Historic Scotland, Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions, Scottish local authorities, Scottish Parliament, Education Scotland and partners in the commercial sector.


SOURCE Scottish Government