Monday, February 20, 2012

Celebrating Robert Burns

Like many people around the world, I celebrated the birthday of Scotland's favorite poet, Robert Burns. From what I understand the celebration may be somewhat different in each location, but several parts remain the same. I'm happy to share a bit of my experience with you.
I'd been to a few Burns' Suppers over the years, but this year's was by far the best. With pomp and circumstance, we drank whisky, listened to Burns' poetry, and ate haggis. Yep, you read that right. I ate haggis (and I love it!).

The Texas Highlanders presented the 2012 Burns Supper in Austin, TX on February 4th. There were close to 400 people at this even in a local hotel, and several participants wore kilts. (Sadly, there were no seriously hot men wearing only a kilt. I know. I checked.) I went with some friends and we instantly began chatting with the other people at our table. There were several raffles, which included bottles of whisky, and a tea/cookie basket. No one at our table won.

The evening began with a bagpiper playing and wandering through the hall. A gentleman carried a silver tray with the haggis above his head. (Haggis is defined as a traditional pudding made of the heart, liver, etc., of a sheep or calf, minced with suet and oatmeal, seasoned, and boiled in the stomach of the animal.) He set the tray on a table. Two women toasted to the haggis and we all joined in.

After that, we had a wonderful dinner of cock-a-leekie soup, steak & kidney pie, haggis, neeps and tatties, and Scotch trifle for dessert. During dinner we had snippets of TV shows that included Scotsmen or people talking about Scotsmen. The accents, of course, raised the goosebumps on my arms. (I'm a sucker for any British accent!) Once the meal was finished, we had a guest speaker who talked about his connection to Burns' poetry, the toast to the lassies, and musicians who played traditional Scottish music. Instructors from a local Scottish Country Dance school tried to maneuver part of the crowd in some dances. I sat out and watched others, but it did get me to thinking about possibly looking into dance lessons for myself!

At the end of the night, all the people who had remained got into a huge circle around the room. We joined hands and sang Auld Lang Syne. I admit I teared up, as I often do, because my heart misses Scotland. But I'll take Austin's Burns' Supper anytime.


Jane Myers Perrine said...

How much fun! Bobby is one of my favorite poets.

Victoria Roberts said...

That sounds like a great time. Too bad on the kilts though. ;-)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I loved hearing your accounting, Alexa. You are a brave person eating haggis. I tried it, but found it okay but not something I'd eat a lot of. You certainly had an evening of Scottish customs - wonderful!

Alexa said...

Thanks, ladies, for stopping by!

Jane, I celebrate any British events I can!

Victoria, yeah, I was a bit disappointed, but I guess I'll just have to write my own Scottish hunks.

Paisley, it really depends on how it's prepared, I believe. A few times I've had it I wished I hadn't. It's funny because once when I ordered it in Edinburgh, the waitress looked at me and asked if I was sure AND if I knew what I was ordering instead of just being a tourist trying something new.

Renee Vincent said...

What a lovely night that must have been, Alexa! Thank you for sharing this event with us. I would have loved listening to the bagpipes...but I must admit I've never tasted Haggis.

Alexa said...

Renee, I was a bit upset there was only one bagpiper. At other suppers I've been to they had several pipers and drummers as well. That, to me, was the only "bad" thing.

As for haggis, I really do believe it depends on who is cooking it.

Cinderwriter said...

Great post Alexa,
I love this line: Sadly, there were no seriously hot men wearing only a kilt. I know. I checked.

Vonda Sinclair said...

That sounds like so much fun! Like being in Scotland for a brief time. Thanks for sharing!

Pat McDermott said...

Sounds like you perpetuated the proper spirit for Robbie. He's one of my favorite poets, and I'm betting he was smiling down on such a thoroughly Scottish celebration. Glad you enjoyed it!

Sarah Hoss said...

Where I live, we have The 42nd Royal Highland Regiment. They are a Scottish Pipe and Drum Corp mirrored after the Black Watch.

The host a Burn's Supper every year and I have attend. I had so much fun and loved the food!

Glad you got to go!!!

Alexa said...

Thanks, Cinderwriter! Hey, I'm still looking for that special Scotsman to sweep me off my feet!

Vonda, I haven't been back to the UK since 2009 and I'm going through withdrawal!!!

Pat, I'm sure he approved of our celebration! (& the 4 whisky drinks I had for him!)

Sarah, I try to attend anything that goes on here that has to do with Britain.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

Lizzie Walker said...

Alexa, I loved this post. Someday, I mean it, someday, I will attend a true Burns feast.

I would love to get to Indiana and visit my CP Sarah Hoss. They have a Burns feast every year. I believe Sarah mentioned it above.

In fact she did a fabulous post last year on the 42nd Royal Highland regiment. BTW if you love Scottish Music, then you should check out their CD's!

Alexa said...

Thanks, Lizzie! I will check out the music. I'm always looking for new soundtracks for my books. :-)