January 26, 2009

Burns Night: A Scottish Prom

Selkirk Grace
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Burns Night is the celebration of the noted Scottish poet, Robert Burns. This year was the 250th anniversary of Rabbie's birth. Thanks to my pal Derek, I was invited to the Burns Night Dinner put on by my University's Business School, open to all post-graduates. It felt like Prom.
The Mylne's Courters in attendance went out for pre-drinks at a swank bar called 56 North. It had great two-for-one deals on drinks. The ladies enjoyed our Flirtinis and then we moved on to pitchers of Death by Something-or-other Pussy, after we saw the boys with them. They were both fruity, champagne-based cocktails.  

What a long straw you have - the better to drink you with my dear!

The dinner was held at Pollack Halls (my old dorms from two summers ago). We were invited for drinks at 7:00pm, and then dinner started promptly at 7:30pm. We had our own table and were served a wonderful three-course meal, which included desert. It had all the traditional Burns Supper foods: smoked salmon, then neeps and tatties with haggis. Neeps = mashed turnips or rutabaga. Tatties = mashed potatoes. Haggis = you don't want to know. But it was all delicious! Burns Night is big on ceremony. There was the piping in of the haggis, where a bagpiper marched around the room pipping, followed by the chef presenting the plate of haggis:
Piping in the haggis

There was the Address to the Haggis, which was a long-ish poem in Scots... to a haggis...
here's a stanza of it: 

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Now doesn't that make you hungry for some minced lamb heart, liver, and lungs?! (I told you that you didn't want to know). Then there was an official toast to the haggis, with whisky of course, followed by a toast to the lassies, and a reply from the lassies (more speeches and recitations of Burns' poetry - which is all written in Scots), followed by desert, and then dancing!
MC enjoying the Burns Supper

There was a live band, and one woman taught us all of the steps to traditional Scottish dances. It's called a Ceilidh: like country line dancing, but with way more interesting steps. The night ended with everyone joining hands and singing one of Robert Burns' most famous poems: Auld Lang Syne. So even though we didn't get to sing it on New Year's, we got to sing it when it really counted!     

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