Burns Night Traditions: Why Do Scots Eat Haggis And What Is It?

Burns Night is one of Scotland’s biggest national events. There are several traditions associated with the night, including eating lots of haggis. Here’s what you need to know about it

Haggis and whiskey are an important part of the Burns Night dinner

Burns Night, which celebrates the life and works of Scottish National Bard Robert Burns, known for writing such famous poems as Auld Lang Syne, To A Mouse and Tam O’Shanter.

Burns, whose work was inspired by Scotland’s rural experience, traditions and culture, is considered Scotland’s national poet, and his poems have become an important part of the country’s national identity. .

The annual Scottish event, which falls on January 25 each year, is closely tied to food and drink, with people often consuming lots of haggis and whiskey as part of a traditional feast called the Burns Night Supper.

Here’s everything you need to know about haggis, Scotland’s national dish, and why Scots follow the tradition of eating haggis for Burns Nights.

What is haggis and why is it eaten on Burns Night?

Haggis is Scotland’s national dish, widely eaten on Burns Night


Yvonne Cadden)

Haggis is a crumbly sausage with a coarse oat-like texture and a peppery flavor. In the past, hunters often used offal first.

Chopped heart, liver and lungs are puffed up with oatmeal, onions, suet, seasonings and spices, then cooked and boiled in an animal’s stomach.

The dish was popularized by Robert Burns in his poem Address To A Haggis. Later, in 1801, when his friends gathered to celebrate his life five years after his death, they served haggis in his memory. Since then, unusual food has become the focus of Burns Night.

However, although haggis is considered Scotland’s national dish, the dish is not believed to be Scottish at all.

Food historian Catherine Brown has claimed that the recipe for haggis dates back to 17th-century England, although the origins of the dish go back even further in history.

What is Burns Night Supper and what’s on the menu?

The Burns Night supper is a three-course meal traditionally served on Burns Night



Burns Night Supper is the traditional meal served on Burns Night, with the host performing Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis before everyone gets home.

The three-course meal usually starts with cullen skink – a thick, creamy soup made with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. Other Scottish soups, such as Scottish Stock, can also be served

The main course is, of course, centered around the haggis. These days, vegetarian alternatives that replace meat with various legumes, nuts, and vegetables are also widely available.

Haggis is usually served with neeps and tatties – a combination of mashed turnips and mashed potatoes – and a shot of whiskey, which you can either toss over the haggis or drink to wash down the crumbly sausage.

For dessert, people will be served a clootie dumpling, a sweet treat best described as a cross between carrot cake and fruitcake. Another dessert is cranachan or tipsy laird, which is basically a trifle of whiskey

After eating, the night continues with a recital of one of Burns’ works before the Immortal Memory speech, in tribute to the bard.

Another speech, the Toast To The Lassies, is given as a thank you to the host, followed by the response to the Toast To The Lassies.

A final Burns reading is performed, after which guests will traditionally sing Auld Lang Syne while holding hands with arms crossed.

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