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Burns Night, Haggis and Other Scottish ‘Delicacies’

Jan 25 2020

It’s Burns Night in Scotland, a day set aside to celebrate the life of Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns, the National Bard of Scotland. He’s best known for writing poems and songs in Scots but wrote many in English too.

Most people are familiar with ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which is usually sung loudly after a few shandies at Hogmanay (New Year), there are many more poems that you may have heard of. If you’re in Scotland and you’re on shore leave then we highly recommend you seek out a Burns Supper! If you’re at sea we’ve added a few extra Scottish Delicacies at the end to add to your bucket list, but first let’s explain some traditions for those of you who many not be in the know…

What is Burns Night?

Contrary to its name Burns Night has nothing to do with fire so you can put your Advance Firefighting certificates away.

It’s an evening where you eat a Burns Supper, enjoy recitals of The Bards work, address the Haggis, have a wee dram, perhaps a bit of ceilidh dancing and generally celebrate the life and works of Rabbie Burns.

What is a Burns Supper?

Traditionally Haggis, Neeps, Tatties and a wee Dram. If this sentence makes no sense, then we’ve translated this for you…

Haggis – A little animal that roams around the hills with a nose like a bagpipe chanter and two legs shorter than the others so it can run round the hills faster.  (See next question for a sensible answer.)

Neeps – Boiled and mashed turnip, better than it sounds.

Tatties – Boiled and mashed potato

Wee Dram – A small whiskey


What is a Haggis?

Haggis is not in fact a little animal, but a mix of oats, meats and spices traditionally boiled in the stomach of a sheep, this is one of the many culinary delicacies from Scotland. Exactly what is in a Haggis is a commonly asked question, sometimes it’s best not to ask. If you are still curious then we recommend you ask the experts over at Macsweens, they have a way with words that will make you drool.

What do you mean by ‘Address the Haggis?’  

Rabbie Burns loved a Haggis and penned this poem to celebrate his appreciation of the fine food. Following his death, a tradition arose to ‘Toast’ or ‘Address’ the Haggis on Burns Night as a celebration of the man, and the food. Visit this website to read the Address to a Haggis, there’s a Scots version with an English Translation beside it for ease.

Ceilidh? What is this and how do you say it? 

Ceilidh is pronounced kay – lee and traditionally means a social event with Scottish music, dancing and story telling… these days it means a right ol’ knees up. If you have the chance to go to a Ceilidh we highly recommend – you don’t need to know the dances, all good Ceilidh Bands will have a dance ‘caller’ who will talk you through the moves. If all else fails hop about and look like you’re having fun – wherever you choose to ceilidh, we know you’ll be warmly welcomed and swung off your feet!

So that’s about it, as with many Scottish Traditions, Burns Night is a great excuse to get together and have a wee party!

Alternative Scottish Culinary Delicacies

If you’re missing out on Burns Night we’ve collated a few additional Scottish Delicacies for you to try next time you’re in the country.

Tunnocks – Their tea cakes are an institution, but we also highly recommend a caramel wafer, caramel log and a snowball. Best served with a cup of Scottish Blend Tea.

Irn Bru – Also known as ‘Ginger’, sells over 20 cans a second in Glasgow and dominates the Scottish fizzy drink market. Its recipe is well kept secret, apparently known by only three people in the world! Best Served in a Glass Bottle.

Square Sausage – As well-travelled seafarers, we know the earth isn’t flat but our sausages are! Square Sausage, or Lorne Sausage, is a particular delicacy in Glasgow but across the rest of the country too. It sits comfortably in a bread roll and works wonders when you’ve had one too many drams. Best served with a glass bottle of Ginger.

Shortbread – Made simply with flour, butter and sugar these crumbly biscuits are a little taste of Scotland.  It goes well with a cup of Scottish Blend Tea or a wee dram, spoilt for choice!

Deep Fried Mars Bars – Yes that’s right a Mars Bar, battered and then deep fried. The creation of this delicacy is attributed to a chap in Stonehaven and spawned a deep fried chocolate meltdown (pardon the pun). Approximately 70% of deep friend mars bars are now sold to visitors who have heard of its reputation.

Pizza Crunch Supper –  While we’re talking about unusual things that have been battered and deep fried unnecessarily, let’s take a moment to appreciate the Pizza Crunch Supper. Largely found in Glasgow, this is a pizza that has been dipped in batter, deep fried and is served with chips. Also known locally as a Heart Attack Supper.

But back to Burns Night, whether you’re having a Haggis, a ham or a curry why not get in the spirit and say a short ‘Selkirk Grace’ before your dinner.


Selkirk Grace

Attributed to Rabbie Burns but no one really knows who wrote it!

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

And sae the Lord be thankit.

The Real Delicacies – 

We have to confess to deliberately selecting options that would make you laugh, but it’s important to let you know that Scotland has a vibrant food industry and produces a wide range of delicious foods across all categories. Have a look at Taste of Scotland for more information on the many, many delicious foods we create here.