K and I attended the San Antonio Scottish Society Burns Night Dinner last night. It was in honor of the 257th anniversary of the poet Robert Burns’ birthday, the 25th of January. It became a tradition after his early death for his friends to meet at dinner in celebration of his life on his birthday, which spread along with Burns’ fame to become a Scottish tradition around the world.
Performances by the San Antonio Pipe Band, Bluebonnet Scottish Country Dancers, and Highland dancers framed a dinner with Haggis, which is almost always initiated by a recitation of Burn’s “Ode to a Haggis”. The Rt Hon Viscount Dunrossil, Honorary Consul of the United Kingdom, rendered his oratorical services yet again for this particular gathering.
If you have never attended a Burns Night, the one hosted by the San Antonio Scottish society has a mixture of what you might have seen at a formal Ceilidh, and elements you may recognize from a military dining-in or mess night, if you have been in the Service of the US or Commonwealth countries. A traditional program will also include: A reading of ‘The Selkirk Grace’
Some Folk hae meat that canna eat,
And some can eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
So let the Lord be Thanket!
then The Haggis is piped in or around the banquet hall, then the Address to the Haggis, and a toast to the Haggis. A meal follows, usually containing a course of Haggis. Entertainment is usually interspersed with ‘The Immortal Memory’, ‘The Toast to the Lassies’, ‘The Reply to the Lassies’, and almost universally concludes with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne”
While some wore formal black-tie highland attire, other were comfortable in clothing suitable for dining at a restaurant–Don’t let a lack of sartorial highland splendor stop you from seeking out your local Burns Night next year! Dallas, Lubbock, Houston, San Antonio, Victoria, Austin, and many other cities and metro areas have Burns Nights– Though to get the maximum results, you may want to google “Burns Nicht”, the scots spelling of the event.