Scotland’s National Poet
On the 25 January, Scots around the world celebrate the birth of Robert Burns, regarded as Scotland’s national poet. Born in Ayrshire, a region to the south of Scotland in 1759; he was a prolific writer of over 700 poems and songs before his death in 1796.
Much of Robert Burns’ poetry was written in vernacular Scots; which one might think would have limited the appeal of his work. However, the universal themes of love and nature throughout his work has ensured lasting appeal around the world. His work has been translated into more than 40 languages and continues to be enjoyed and celebrated, even 200 years after this death.
Famous Works include, ‘Auld Lang Syne’, ‘My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose’ , ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ and Tam O’Shanter.
Burns in Print
The first edition of ‘Burns’ Poetry’ was printed in Kilmarnock, Scotland in 1786 – with only 612 copies printed. Given the Scottish diaspora, it is perhaps no surprise to hear that editions of Burns’ debut work were printed in Philadelphia and New York in 1788. Further editions were printed throughout Europe; his work was especially popular in Germany.
Cultural and Economic Significance
Earlier this month (January 2020), the findings of a study conducted by the University of Glasgow pointed not only to the lasting cultural importance of Burns’ work, but also the economic significance of Burns’ brand – with the study noting that the worldwide interest in his works and life, generate more than £203million to the Scottish economy every year!
There are Burns societies around the world too – where enthusiasts can come together to celebrate and discuss the cultural impact of his work. Russia boasts the Society with the largest membership!
A Traditional Celebration
A Burns’ Supper is now a long-standing tradition, held to celebrate the poet’s life and works on 25 January every year. It is estimated that a staggering 10 million people will attend a Burns’ Supper each year. There is a fairly standard ‘format’ or structure to a Burns’ Supper which we’ve shared below – just in case any of our wonderful customers or contacts are thinking of hosting their own Supper this weekend.
What you’ll need to host your own Burns’ Supper:
A kilt-clad bagpipe player
If this is a challenge, you could always turn to Spotify 😊
A haggis* and a dagger
to make the first cut in the tasty haggis
Whisky (of course)
and perhaps some wine and ale to toast the Bard
This generally includes sharing some Burns’ poetry and songs. A standard part of the celebration always includes an often hilarious ‘Toast to the Lassies’ from a male guest – with a female guest then sharing a ‘Reply to the Toast to the Lassies.
Your singing voice
A Burns’ Supper always ends with guests standing and singing (and maybe linking arms) as they sing Auld Lang Syne.
Auld Lang Syne
One of Burn’s most famous pieces is of course, Auld Lang Syne – a song now sung across the world to celebrate New Year. The song, with unforgettable lyrics and themes of friendship and reflection on times gone by – resonates and transcends many cultural or societal norms.
As this is one of our first blogs of 2020, it is perhaps fitting to end with a few lines from The Bard’s most famous work:
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.”
The PG team is pleased to have made your acquaintance, and we look forward to working with you again, and perhaps sharing a dram with some of you too, in the year ahead!
Happy Burns’ Day from PG Paper!
*Haggis – a savoury dish made with sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, mixed with onion, oatmeal and spices. It was traditionally encased within the animal’s stomach. (Very tasty vegetarian Haggis is available!)
It is traditionally eaten with neeps (turnip) and tatties (potatoes).