All Episodes

January 25, 2024 6 mins

To celebrate the anniversary of poet Robert Burns' birth on January 25, 1759, Scottish people all over the world observe Burns Night each year. Learn about the verse, the bagpipes, and of course the haggis in this episode of BrainStuff, based on this article: https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays-other/get-out-haggis-its-burns-night.htm

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Brainstuff, a production of iHeartRadio, Hey Brainstuff. Lorn Vogelbaum. Here.
Every January twenty fifth, Proud Scots from Edinburgh to Shanghai
celebrate the life and literary genius of the eighteenth century
Scottish poet Robert Burns through a beloved tradition called Burns Night,

(00:23):
ranging from formal ceremonies with tilted bagpipers to small gatherings
of old friends. A good Burns Night often has three
things in common, a bottle of good Scotch whiskey, readings
of classic Burns poems and songs, and a fat and
juicy haggis. It's hard to overstate the heroic status of

(00:43):
Burns in Scottish cultural psyche. Born on January twenty fifth
of seventeen fifty nine, and not only was Burns the
author of some five hundred and fifty songs and poems,
including Odd Lang Sign, the second most sung song in
the world after Happy Birthday, and favorites like My Love
Is Like a Red Red Rose. He was also a

(01:04):
man of the people, a lifelong farmer known as the
heaven Top Plowman or the Plowman poet. Burns poems are
some of the first taught in Scottish primary schools, and
his dashing portrait is plastered on posters nationwide like Jay
Guavera or John F. Kennedy. Before the article this episode

(01:24):
is based on, has Stuff Works spoke with Alistair Braidwood,
creator and host of the scott Swahey Podcast, a show
about Scottish culture. He said, the fact that we can
project different aspects of a national identity onto this figure
has allowed him to endure. You could say Scotland is
a hard drinking country and Burns did that, or Scotland

(01:44):
is a socially liberal country and he was that. There's
something about him, the man and his poetry that people
can tap into. Burns is celebrated all year in Scotland,
but a special veneration is reserved for his birthday. It
started just a few years after Burn's untimely death at
just thirty seven years of age from rheumatic fever, when

(02:07):
his close friends gathered for a memorial supper in his honor.
From there, the traditions spread across Scotland and eventually the world.
Wherever you find a scot on January twenty fifth, you'll
likely find a Burns Night a Formal suppers are held
at these some two hundred and fifty official Burns clubs worldwide,
and various restaurants and private individuals host suppers too. The

(02:30):
main attraction of Burns Night is the Burns Supper, and
the star of the supper is undeniably the haggis. Haggis
is a type of sausage made of awfal meats, often
including the heart, liver, and lung of sheep and sometimes
other animals, that are simmered and minced up, then combined
with onion about an equal portion of oats to meats
and beef suet, then seasoned with things like salt, pepper, coriander, ginger, nutmeg,

(02:56):
allspice and bay, and finally stuffed in either a sheep's
stomach or a sausage casing and boiled until semi firm.
It's often a large dish cut tableside with the crumbly
interior dished out family style. A burn supper begins with
opening remarks by the host and the recitation of the
Selkirk Grace, traditional thanks of the Scot's language. It's associated

(03:18):
with Burns because he's said to have translated it to
English on the spot. At a dinner for the Earl
of Selkirk. It goes as some have meat and cannot eat.
Some cannot eat that want it. But we have meat
and we can eat, so let the Lord be thanked.
After that, the haggis is brought out with great fanfare,
sometimes accompanied by a parade of bagpipes, which brings us

(03:40):
to everyone's favorite part of the night. The recitation of
Addressed to a haggis written in the Scots language. Like
many of Burns's works, this poem is a humorous hymn
to the iconic dish and which Burns scoffs at the
high cuisine of the French and praises the rustic strength
of haggis fed men. Rely does sound best in its

(04:01):
original Scots, but since I don't speak that, but here's
the opening in translation, good luck to you and your honest,
plump face, great chieftain of the sausage race. The poem
is meant to be recited with gusto, completely dramatic, and
sometimes body hand gestures. For a non body example. There's

(04:21):
a part where Burns describes cutting open the haggis again
in English, his knife see the serving man wipe then
cut you up with effort's slight, making a trench in
your entrails bright just like a ditch. And then what
a glorious sight, warm, steaming rich. Upon these words, the
orator slits open the haggis from top to bottom, revealing

(04:43):
its piping hot spiced sausage. Inerts. Braidwood said, it's just
a great fun poem. Apart from everything else, I've seen
people really give it their all when they're doing the
address to a haggis, and you've got the cutting open
of the haggis right there in the poem. It almost
tells you how to enjoy a good Burns night. And
that's not the only speech. Burne's famously appreciated women. He

(05:08):
fathered twelve children, only nine with his wife, and the
Toast to the Lassies is a chance for one intrepid
guest to use some snippets of Burn's verse to praise
and poke fun at the ladies and attendants. They have
to be careful, though, because it's the women who get
the last laugh with their bespoke reply to the Toast
to the Lassies. This is usually written and delivered by

(05:29):
one of those ladies in attendants, but it's all in
good fun. The evening ends with everyone holding hands and
singing old Lang sign. You can check out our whole
episode about that song from December thirty first of twenty twenty.
But basically, this is an old Scots language song that
burns sat down as a poem about old friends meeting

(05:49):
up over drinks and reminiscing about the good old days,
a fitting cap on an evening of celebrating this man
of the people. Today's episode is based on the article
get out the Haggis It's Burns Night on HowStuffWorks dot com,
written by Dave Ruse. Brainstuff is production of iHeartRadio in

(06:10):
partnership with howstifforks dot com and is produced by Tyler Klang.
For more podcasts my heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

BrainStuff News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Hosts And Creators

Josh Clark

Josh Clark

Jonathan Strickland

Jonathan Strickland

Ben Bowlin

Ben Bowlin

Lauren Vogelbaum

Lauren Vogelbaum

Cristen Conger

Cristen Conger

Christian Sager

Christian Sager

Show Links

AboutStore

Popular Podcasts

BG2Pod with Brad Gerstner and Bill Gurley

BG2Pod with Brad Gerstner and Bill Gurley

Open Source bi-weekly conversation with Brad Gerstner (@altcap) & Bill Gurley (@bgurley) on all things tech, markets, investing & capitalism

Crime Junkie

Crime Junkie

If you can never get enough true crime... Congratulations, you’ve found your people.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

Connect

© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.