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How To Host A Fuss-Free Burns Night

January 2017Words by Mr Craig McLean

Piping in the haggis in the restaurant at the Savoy Hotel, London. Photograph by Evening Standard/Getty Images

I know what you’re thinking. Burns Night is that weird annual tartan tradition where professional Scotsmen rampage through the heather on wild haggis hunts, snort whisky, shout poetry, eat kilts, ritually torch effigies of Mr Calvin Harris (hence the celebration’s name) and generally proclaim their superiority to the English and every other race. Right?

As a Scotsman – and several years’ exile in London has rendered me even more professionally Celtic – I’m here to dispel those myths. We don’t burn effigies of our countryman who’s the world’s highest paid DJ, only singe them. The rest, though, is true.

Well, kind of. Burns Night is on 25 January, and marks the birthday in 1759 of Mr Robert “Rabbie” Burns, Scotland’s national poet. This dashing ploughman was famed for his political, polemical and comical versifying, his drinking and his enthusiastic pursuit of 18th-century ladyfolk. Our People’s Poet lived fast, died young and left a beautiful body of work that was the toast of Ayrshire fields, Edinburgh high society and Scots’ national sense of self. No wonder we love him still.