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The History of Robert Burns

On the 25th of January each year, the life and work of Robert Burns is celebrated around the world. Burns Night is thought to have first been celebrated by a group of Burns’ close friends back in 1801 on the 5th anniversary of his death at Burns Cottage in Alloway, located a short distance from our Prestwick store. The night was filled with performances and speeches while enjoying a traditional haggis dinner. This first Burns Supper was such a success that the group of friends decided to make it an annual event and from then on the night was celebrated each year on Burns’ birthday.

Burns Night 2022 - MacGregor and MacDuff

That first supper laid the foundation for the way that people celebrate Burns night today. Speeches, poems and haggis as well as whisky and of course tartan, are all still present at Burns nights across the world. The night is steeped in tradition and there is usually a running order to most authentic Burns Suppers.

Burns Supper - MacGregor and MacDuffTo start the evening everyone gathers to listen to the host say a few words (also known as the Chairman's Welcome). The host will introduce his guests and explain what the night has in store for everyone. Once everyone is seated the host will then recite the ‘Selkirk Grace’. This is a short but important prayer to usher in the meal. The haggis, which is usually on a silver platter, is then brought into the room followed by the chef and a piper. While this happens, guests will stand and clap along to the music to welcome in the dinners main attraction. Once the haggis reaches the table, the host will then perform the Burns poem ‘Address to a Haggis’ followed by everyone toasting the haggis. The meal is then served.

Robert Burns New York City - MacGregor and MacDuffAfter the meal, the entertainment will consist of various songs and readings after which three traditional recitals will take place. The first will be the ‘Immortal  Memory’ which is the main tribute speech to Burns. The next will be the ‘Toast to the Lassies’ which is followed by a ‘Reply to the Toast to the Lassies’. The night is then ended with the host giving a vote of thanks and all the guests stand and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. 

Burns Supper 2022 - MacGregor and MacDuffBurns night is arguably the most traditional night in the Scottish calendar and therefore the dress code of the night is not only Scottish, but formal. If you are thinking of attending a Burns Night this year, we would suggest you wear a Prince Charlie jacket and waistcoat, paired with either a kilt or tartan trews. The Prince Charlie is the most formal highlandwear option and looks fantastic at a Burns Supper. Alternatively, you could choose to wear an Argyle jacket and waistcoat as this is also a great formal option. We have both the Prince Charlie and Argyle options available in our Hire range with availability for this year's Burns Night. Our hire kilt outfits come with a choice of 14 different hire tartans which include our exclusive Mist Tartans. If you attend Burns Suppers most years, why not check out what we have to offer in our Purchase range. Whether you are looking to update an old outfit or looking to buy a new kilt or even if you would like to have a trews option in your wardrobe, we have a huge selection of options that will not only look great on Burns Night but at all of your events.

For any questions or to book a hire for this year's Burns celebrations, email or drop in to our Prestwick store the next time you visit Burns Cottage.