Robert (Robbie, ‘Rabbie’) Burns is the National Poet of Scotland and known as ‘The Bard’ of Scotland. Every year he is celebrated around the time of his birthday, which happens to coincide around the time of CSr’s (Daaad) birthday. So, this year we decided to combine CSr’s (Daaad) celebration with an Address to the Haggis…
A what? A WHO?!?! You can imagine when I first learned of this tradition, I thought the Scots had gone mad and that I had married a family that believed in speaking to witches. But then I was corrected. We are talking about HAG G I S…
I for one had NO idea what haggis was before marrying into a Scottish family. When I did find out what it was, it made my Irish nan’s white pudding sound like a treat.
Forgive me if you know, but let’s just be clear on what haggis actually is…
Oh…it looks like a stomach? Well that’s funny because it IS that, but oh so more…
Haggis …gag us...is the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep finely ground (yes, finely as this is clearly important lest we taste a lump or too of organ)…then mixed with oatmeal and spices…
Yum right? Hmmm and then…wait for it…
It is then cooked oh well that’s okay then as long as it’s cooked…
INSIDE THE ANIMAL’s OWN STOMACH LINING… simmering? stewing? who CARES! for 3 hours until it’s nice and done.
My grandmother always used to say, ‘Turkeys are done….PEOPLE are finished’ whenever my sister and I would try to leave the dinner table so I’m sort of hoping that as the sheep is clearly done, can we just call this meal a day and go listen to some poems?
Oh, and there are neeps.
Yep – another Scottish tradition – NEEPS, and heaps of them…
Actually, the photo also has some TATTIES in them – that would be potatoes, so we have a full meal before us of a traditional Burns Supper…Haggis, Neeps and Tatties.
When I was first introduced to the Scottish poet’s traditions and writings, I also learned from my Scottish in-laws that Mr. Burns is probably most known for his lyrics to Auld Lang Syne.
I did not know this.
Rather embarassingly, I sort of half admitted that I thought Guy Lombardo wrote the song…
and as if that wasn’t bad enough, I went on and on reminiscing about all of my cold New Years Eves wandering around Times Square and singing it at the top of my lungs thanks to Dick Clark’s Rockin New Years Eve…
Now you know…well, unlike me, you probably did know…Rabbie, wrote it in 1788.
So even if I don’t eat sheep organs, at least I have one tune under my belt as I sit here with London’s Scottish finest out in their tartan kilts and trews, brogues and all complete with skean and dhus with the women in tartan scarves, sashes and basically…well…
A LOT of plaid.
My mother in law had very kindly gifted me a tartan sash this Christmas in the family clan pattern. However, I was quite certain that if I opened my mouth and said a word that I just wouldn’t be able to resist telling everyone my Dick Clark stories so…
I only opened my mouth to sip the whiskey …and a lot of it …that was being passed around.
At our seats now, we all stand for Scottish grace and a bagpipe accompaniment to the Entrance of the Haggis.
Was it still alive? Were they also going to walk in actual sheep?
I think all that whiskey was starting to effect me because I started to giggle at the idea of a rodeo like atmosphere suddenly erupting with everyone in their tartan garb jumping up and starting to reel, which is Scottish country dancing, and in my opinion is very much like square dancing…
…but shhh…don’t tell my inlaws.
Back to the Haggis,
Here is the poem in its entirety:
The bit that got my attention was :
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,
Catch the bit about the ‘gushing entrails’? The haggis is then stabbed, there is a toast, we are served and we eat.
Yep, time to tuck in…oh goodie.
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying Burns’ beautiful poems, and listening to wonderful stories from people who have dedicated their lives to interpreting and understanding his works.
For 2 hours, we were taken back 200 years to celebrate a man, a poet and his Scottish landscape.
So not only did I Address the Haggis,
I Enjoyed the Haggis
…drowned in a 50ml airplane bottle of whiskey (how else WOULD…COULD you eat it), what’s NOT to like?
No glory without guts…sorry, couldn’t resist.
On the night,
Glenfarclas 10 year old Malt
Raise a glass to celebrate whatever meal you are enjoying
Raise another glass if that does not involve animal organs
Raise yet another glass if you wish to understand Rabbie’s poems
After another, feel free to sing Auld Lang Syne
Happy Birthday CSr (Daaad)