TCS: A Virtual Burns Night Supper

Good Morning!

A silver tumbler for a wee dram –
So “take a cup of kindness yet” and join in!


Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.

Robert Burns (1759–1796) has a special place in Scottish hearts, enshrined forever as the national bard. Every January 25, the date of his birth, there are Burns Night celebrations, not only in Scotland, but around the world among people who claim Scots descent.

The Burns Supper is the centerpiece of this annual celebration. It’s an evening full of time-honored traditions, and sure to warm the cockles of your heart.

For this post, I’m going to need your help. Here we are at The Coffee Shop, but I’m giving you Supper, probably before you’ve even had Breakfast. This is a longer piece than my usual post, but you do have until this coming Thursday, which is the actual date of Burns Night this year, to get through it.

Please use your imagination, and envision our company gathered in a great wood-paneled dining hall with a blazing hearth-fire keeping out a deep winter night’s bitter cold . . . 




As tonight’s honored guests, you will be piped in to the hall

Welcome All

The Chair (man or woman)

Welcome to our virtual Burns Supper, celebrating the 259th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. All who are assembled here are indeed most welcome. The story goes that Burns was requested to say grace at dinner by Lord Daer, Earl of Selkirk, at his seat, St. Mary’s Isle, and Burns recited this old Scots-dialect quatrain, the Covenanters’ Grace. But it became famous because of Burns, and is now known as the Selkirk Grace –

The Selkirk Grace in Scots Gaelic, with semi-English translation:

ha biadh aig cuid, ‘s gun aca càil, Some hae meat and canna eat,
acras aig cuid,’s gun aca biadh,   And some wad eat that want it;
acras aig cuid,’s gun aca biadh, But we hae meat and we can eat,
moladh mar sin a bhith don Triath      And sae the Lord be thanket.

Piping in the Haggis

and . . . Toasting the Haggis

Warning — the following contains a GRAPHIC description of Haggis — NOT for the faint of stomach!

The Reading of the Address to a Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Fair and full is your honest plump face
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race! Great chieftain of the pudding race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place, Above them all you take your place
Painch, tripe, or thairm: Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace Well are you worthy of a grace
As lang’s my arm. As long as my arm
The groaning trencher there ye fill, The groaning trencher (plate) there you fill
Your hurdies like a distant hill, Your buttocks like a distant hill
Your pin wad help to mend a mill Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time o need, In time of need
While thro your pores the dews distil While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead. Like amber bead
His knife see rustic Labour dight, His knife see rustic labor wipe
An cut you up wi ready slight, And cut you up with ready slice
Trenching your gushing entrails bright, Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch; Like any ditch
And then, O what a glorious sight, And then, Oh what a glorious sight
Warm-reekin, rich! Warm steaming, rich!
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive: Then spoon for spoon, they stretch and strive
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive, Devil take the hindmost, on they drive
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve Till all their well swollen bellies by and by
Are bent like drums; Are bent like drums
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive, Then the old Master of the house, most like to burst
‘Bethankit’ hums. ‘The grace!’ hums
Is there that owre his French ragout, Is there that over his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow, Or olio that would sicken a pig
Or fricassee wad mak her spew Or fricassee would make her vomit
Wi perfect scunner, With perfect disgust
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On sic a dinner? On such a dinner
Poor devil! see him owre his trash, Poor devil! See him over his trash
As feckless as a wither’d rash, As feeble as a withered rush
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash, His thin legs a good whip-lash
His nieve a nit; His fist a nut
Thro bloody flood or field to dash, Through bloody flood or field to dash
O how unfit! O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed, But mark the Rustic, haggis fed
The trembling earth resounds his tread, The trembling earth resounds his tread
Clap in his walie nieve a blade, Clap in his ample fist a blade
He’ll make it whissle; He’ll make it whistle
An legs an arms, an heads will sned, And legs, and arms, and heads will crop
Like taps o thrissle. Like tops of thistle.
Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care, You powers, who make mankind your care
And dish them out their bill o fare, And dish them out their bill of fare
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware Old Scotland want no watery ware
That jaups in luggies: That splashes in small wooden dishes
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer, But if you wish her grateful prayer
Gie her a Haggis! Give her a Haggis!

As the Haggis is cut with the ceremonial knife, all raise your glasses and shout:

The Haggis!

Burns Supper Fare:

We begin with cock-a-leekie soup, then the Haggis, with bashit neeps (mashed rutabagas)  and champit tatties (mashed potatoes). For those who prefer, we offer these additional dishes: vegetarian Haggis, roast beef and Cullen Skink (a hearty soup made with haddock or smoked salmon). You may have your choice of wine or ale.

Now for the sweet course — perhaps you’ll take just a wee taste of both? Clootie Dumpling (pudding boiled in a cloth) and Typsy Laird (sherry trifle).

And finally, the cheeseboard with bannocks (oat cakes).

Now, may I offer you a dram or two of a fine single-malt whisky? As you can see, we’ve The Balvenie DoubleWood, The McCallan Cask Strength, and, for those who like a bit of a smoky taste, The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated. And if I may say without giving offense, if you canna find a dram to your liking among these, well, you’re a hard one to please!




And now for the


The Immortal Memory

This oration on the life and works of Robert Burns is an original speech composed by the speaker. It’s a challenging task not to be attempted by the faint-hearted, as it must contain both reverence for Scotland’s beloved Bard and enough sparkling wit to keep the celebratory mood flowing.  (These speeches run 20-30 minutes, so here is some really good advice from an expert on preparing for an Immortal Memory speech:

The Cliff’s Notes version:

At the conclusion of the oration, the speaker calls for raised glasses —  

To the Immortal Memory!

The Toasts

Now some of the men rise to deliver the toasts and Burns quotes in praise (or not) of women, which concludes with a toast “to the Lassies!”

More Burns poems are read — and then the women take the floor to reply to the “Toast to the Lassies” with toasts of our own. If the men have been unwise enough to make merry in their toasts at women’s expense, this is when the women will have their revenge.

Ye Flowery Banks (Bonie Doon)

Ye flowery banks o’ bonie Doon,
         How can ye blume sae fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
         And I sae fu’ o’ care?
Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
         That sings upon the bough;
Thou minds me o’ the happy days,
         When my fause love was true.
Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
         That sings beside thy mate;
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
         And wist na o’ my fate.
Aft hae I rov’d by bonie Doon
         To see the wood-bine twine,
And ilka bird sang o’ its luve,
         And sae did I o’ mine.
Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose
         Frae aff its thorny tree;
And my fause luver staw my rose
         But left the thorn wi’ me.


“How can I keep my maidenhead”

How can I keep my maidenhead,
My maidenhead, my maidenhead;
How can I keep my maidenhead,
Among sae mony men, O.

The Captain bad a guinea for’t,
A guinea for’t, a guinea for’t,
The Captain bad a guinea for’t,
The Colonel he bad ten, O.

But I’ll do as my minnie did,
My minnie did, my minnie did,
But I’ll do as my minnie did,
For siller I’ll hae nane, O.

I’ll gie it to a bonie lad,
A bonie lad, a bonie lad;
I’ll gie it to a bonie lad,
For just as gude again, O.

An auld moulie maidenhead,
A maidenhead, a maidenhead;
An auld moulie maidenhead,
The weary wark I ken, O.

The stretchin’ o’t, the strivin’ o’t,
The borin o’t, the rivin’ o’t,
And ay the double drivin o’t,
The farther ye gang ben, O

Thanks to You All

The Chair offers Heart-felt Thanks to all of you, Guests and Friends, for your contributions to this wonderful evening. As the drinks have continued to flow freely, I’ve been canny and ordered a sufficient number of taxis to carry all of you home safely.

Auld Lang Syne

We conclude the festivities by standing and joining hands to sing Auld Lang Syne. (The singer is probably not who you expected but she’s easy to understand).


Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!


For auld land syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit
Sin’ auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us briad hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude—willie waught,
For auld lang syne.



Thistle – The Scottish National Flower

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

—  My Heart’s in the Highlands



Burns Night Lore and Scots Language:

Poems and Songs:


  • Burns Supper fare: The Haggis, with bashit neeps (mashed rutabagas)  and champit tatties (mashed potatoes)
  • Last picture: detail from a painting of Robert Burns by Alexander Nasmyth

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
This entry was posted in Poetry, The Coffee Shop and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to TCS: A Virtual Burns Night Supper

  1. Fantastic post! I had a lot of fun reading this – and even though I don’t get to go to a proper Burns Supper this year I’ll be doing a wee one at home and using this as a guide no doubt!!

Comments are closed.