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Host a Burns Night party

Winter is the perfect season for hosting a dinner party. A hearty meal helps to chase away the cold weather and brightens up the dark nights. Make your guests feel special with their own place setting and let the laughter lighten a dreary evening. With Burns Night on 25th January, the house cleaning professionals at MOLLY MAID suggest that there is no better way to chase away the January blues than to host a simple Burns Night dinner party at home?

So, what are the origins of Burns Night?

Five years after Robert Burns died, a group of his friends got together to remember him and his poetry. The tradition became established and now, every year on his birthday, 25th January, Scots all round the world celebrate Burns Night with a Burns Supper, which follows a format similar to the original dinner (often with much toasting and drinking of whisky!).


At a grand dinner say in a stately home or a hotel, guests are piped in by bagpipes to take their places at the dining table. The guests are welcomed by the host, who declares the celebrations open. The Selkirk Grace is read, and supper begins with a soup course (often the Scottish favourite Cock-A-Leekie soup). Now the haggis, a traditional Scottish dish is piped in from the kitchen while the guests stand and clap the haggis in. The host or an invited guest reads Burn’s famous poem, Address To A Haggis, cutting open the haggis with a large knife when they reach the line “an cut you up wi’ ready slight”!

The haggis is eaten with mashed tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnip, swede or rutabaga.) Then there will be dessert (often sherry trifle) and oatcakes and cheese.

After dinner there will be a toast to the Queen, and one of the guests will give a short speech about Burns called “The Immortal Memory”. A man makes a “Toast to the Lassies” and a lady makes a toast in reply. Guests will take turns reading Burns poems, singing Burns songs and possibly doing some Highland dancing! The party will close with everyone singing Auld Lang Syne.

For the more informal dinner party at home, it is still expected to the read the Selkirk Grace and then to welcome in the Haggis. The Address to a Haggis should ideally be read by someone who can give feeling and emotion to the actions as described in the poem for entertainment value!

A traditional Burns Night dinner party at home will include:

  • Cock-A-Leekie soup (chicken and vegetable)
  • Haggis, neeps and tatties (Potatoes, turnip, swede)
  • Sherry Trifle and perhaps another alternative for those that don’t eat Trifle
  • Oatcakes and cheese

If you can’t get hold of a haggis or would prefer not to, you could always make a meatloaf. Take plenty of photos to for posterity!

“When Scotland forgets Burns, then history will forget Scotland.”

J S Blackie