Haggis, bagpipes, Scotch whisky, and Burns poetry. That sounds like a night out to me! In a place like Lethbridge, the only time to have all these things under one roof is on Robbie Burns Day. It’s a great chance for students to enjoy a cheap night out while at the same time celebrating Scottish culture. This year I attended the event and had a blast! Here’s what it’s all about…
Robbie Burns Day takes place on January 25th every year (or the weekend prior to the 25th) in celebration of the birth of the 18th century Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Burns is famous for poems/songs like “My Love is like a Red Red Rose” and “Address to a Haggis.” But really, for many it’s an occasion to celebrate Scottish culture in general. You don’t have to be Scottish in order to attend one of these events, of course, and everyone can (and will) have a great time!
A common centrepiece in a Burns night event is a ritual in which the haggis is paraded into the room with bagpipe accompaniment, and then a resident Scot recites the “Address to a Haggis” by Robbie Burns. You will likely not understand what is being said in the poem, due partially to 18th century Scots-English dialect and partially to the thick accent of the speaker, but it has something to do with how wimpy other dishes are compared with haggis. Wimpy is my word, not Burns’.
Haggis samples are available for free throughout the course of the event, served on crackers. See below for a picture of me sampling some haggis! If you know how haggis is made, it may turn you off of the dish, but it really tastes a lot better than it sounds! It’s a dish consisting of ground sheep liver, oat meal, and spices. This is a challenge: try it if you want the full experience of Burns night. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Plus, according to Burns, you’ll be a lot more macho: “But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed, The trembling earth resounds his tread…”
The rest of the night is filled with traditional Scottish dancing, music, and poetry. If you want a Scottish cultural experience in your own back yard, this is a great place to do it.
Seriously, next year you have to check out this event. It takes place at the Galt Museum on an evening near the end of January, and it costs only $3 for admission. If you wish to sample a dram of Scotland’s most infamous export, you can pay $10 for a set of five drink tickets. Haggis samples are included free with admission!
As they say in Scots Gaelic, “Sláinte beatha!”