The Scots poet, Robert Burns, was born in Alloway, Scotland on January 25th, 1759. A few years after his death in 1796, close friends would dine together or around January 25th to celebrate his life and work. This annual event soon moved beyond his inner circle, and Burns Suppers are now held throughout Scotland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. They begin with a piper ‘piping in’ a haggis *. Someone then ‘addresses’ the haggis, using Burns’s “Address To The Haggis” which begins with the words, “Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!”. It is a lengthy tribute, and most non-Scots require a translation. Other foods are eaten as well, and the evening also involves music, dancing, and the reading of more Burns poems.
* In the days leading up to Robbie Burns Day, it is not uncommon for hoaxers to proclaim haggis sightings or haggis captures in a bid to perpetuate the belief that there really is such a creature as a haggis. It would therefore be in keeping with tradition to have your kids speculate as to what a haggis is before telling them it is actually just a savoury pudding comprised of oatmeal, salt, suet, onions, spices, and sheep’s pluck (heart, lungs, and liver). Originally cooked in a sheep’s stomach, they are usually put into sausage casings nowadays.