Burns Night My Way!

By Neil Muir (NEILMUIR1) on January 25, 2011

Burns night is held on or near 25th January every year, which was Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poets Birthday in 1759. More formal Burns suppers or nights are held; some people have Burns parties, or like us just quiet ones at home. The highlight of any Burns night is the cutting of the Haggis and then a toast of whisky. Follow me to the skirl of the pipes, as we have our own little one at home and I will tell you some of the History behind it!

Burns night has always been special to us as my granddfather was Scottish, hence our very Scottish surname. This night is celebrated not only by the Scottish but also by people who admire Burns writings all over the world, and there are many of them. Normally on a formal Burns night the gusts arrive and are greeted informally then seated. Someone normally makes a speech of some sort. The Haggis has been pricked and boiled for about two hours, and then it is drained to get the water out of it. It is pricked to stop it exploding! Then placed on a silver platter, it is piped to the table with reverence. Grace is then said and Burns Address To A Haggis is the read. There is one line in the poem where someone will clean a knife and as that line is said the Haggis will be sliced open from end to end, this is the highlight of the evening. Then a toast of whisky is drunk to the Haggis. It is then served up and eaten by the guests.

Burns said in the immortal words of the Haggis which is a meat pudding, "Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the pudding race!"

To enlarge a photo please just click on it.


My Burns night is a very informal affair held at home, still with the pipes but without a live piper! Here are the ingredients for our night. One baby Haggis, one Swede and potatoes. There is always some controversy as the Scots call Swedes, turnips or yellow turnips. Where down south we call them Swedes. The proper classification of a neep is a Swede. Here is my baby Haggis and then with the vegetables.

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There are a lot of ways to cook Haggis from; boiling, steaming, in the oven and now even in a microwave! Here is mine in my steamer before the lid goes on for about an hour, as it is a small one.


Swede can sometimes be difficult to peel and very hard to cut up, so I do them first! Then the potatoes are peeled, diced and washed. The Swede and the potatoes are added to the same pot and boiled in salted water for 15-20 minutes. Here are mine with the Swede on the left ready to go in the pan!

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Now when the Swede and potatoes are ready they are drained well. Butter, salt and white pepper are added and they are mashed.

The Haggis is put on a plate and as the reading of the poem Address To A Haggis reaches the line "His knife see rustic "Labour dicht" he draws a knife and cleans it. As the poem starts the line "An' cut you up wi' ready slicht" the knife is plunged into the Haggis and it is cut from end to end. At the end of the poem a whisky toast is made to The Haggis.

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The meal is then served up like this normally. Haggis, neeps and tatties!


It is amazing to think that this ancient pudding, made long before Burns was around, is still so popular all over the world. Haggis was the first of the puddings, that then went on to create our famous sweet puddings.

For a sweet after the Haggis, tipsy trifle an Alcoholic trifle is served or cranachan another Alcoholic desert. This is cranachan to make it Click Here.


Haggis is delicious and nothing to be worried about. There are too many myths about it that are not true at all. For in Scotland they will tell you they are hard to catch and they have one set of legs shorter than the other. This is by myth stops them falling down the mountains. If you believe that you will believe anything.

A toast to Rabbie Burns.


"O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!"

Robert Burns.




For Nancy. 


Related articles:
Burns night, cranachan, grace, haggis neeps and tatties, pipping the Haggis in, tipsy laird, toast to the haggis

About Neil Muir
I started as a seven year Apprentice for a Parks Department on the London\Kent borders. Going to college one day a week and working in the varied Victorian parks, gardens and nurseries five days a week.
After this I worked for many large estates and became Head Gardener in different locations. However with the growing use of pesticides and herbicides I went back to University, primarily to study Conservation and Ecology, but relevant to the now growing organic movement in the UK. After 28 years in Horticulture due to an accident I was informed I could no longer do the physical work involved and was retired. I love supporting the Great British Gardens we have in our small island, and cooking the traditional food of this Country. My hobbies are listening to bagpipe music, steam trains and model making, plus of course gardening.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
fascinating KathyJo Jan 30, 2011 7:27 AM 7
we had one too! cerridwenn Jan 27, 2011 9:56 PM 1
hmmmmmmmmmmmm cececoogan Jan 26, 2011 3:38 PM 17

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