Burns Night (and Haggis?!) | Holly Goes Abroad

A few days ago I had the pleasure of celebrating an interesting and hilariously fun tradition: Burns night. This Scottish tradition is typically celebrated on January 25th in honor of Robert Burns (1759-96), who is considered the national poet of Scotland. There were bagpipes, several toasts, many lines of poetry read in thick Scottish accents, and even haggis. Robert Burns is most well-known for poems such as “Auld Lang Syne,” “Scots Wha Hae,” “A Red, Red Rose,” “To a Mouse”, etc.

Robert Burns

There is actually a specific order to Burns night, which Mansfield College tried to adhere to fairly accurately. A large part of the night is devoted to the haggis, involving piping it in with bagpipes, addressing it, and even toasting to it. I had never had haggis before, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s actually quite good (ours was fried, so that may have helped a bit). If you’re like me and had no idea what haggis even was before trying it for the first time, allow me to save you a Wikipedia search:

Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck; minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead.

It sounds strange– and it is!– but I definitely wouldn’t let that dissuade you from trying it at least once!

It was really interesting celebrating this Scottish tradition in England, considering the rivalry between the two nations. The speeches were lighthearted and the accents were on in full force, but it’s clear that the tension between the two nations still exists and is entrenched in both cultures (to a certain extent and largely depending on the individual, of course). All in all, Burns night made me want to visit Scotland even more!

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Have you ever celebrated Burns night? What are your favorite traditions? Do you like haggis? Let me know in the comments section below!



15 responses to “Burns Night (and Haggis?!) | Holly Goes Abroad”

  1. There’s a lot of food that sounds/smells/looks strange, but I’d still always recommend trying everything at least once. I am glad you didn’t let anything get in the way of you trying haggis!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I told myself I would try at least one bite of it just to see what it’s like, but it actually ended up being pretty good! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t ever celebrated Burns night despite all of my family being Scottish! We do live in England and have done for years. My mum’s maiden name is Burns so we really should. I’ve never tried Haggis. The idea of it makes me feel sick. My family love it though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah haggis is great if you don’t think about what you’re actually eating… that’s so funny that you’re mom’s family’s name is Burns! You have to celebrate now 🙂


  3. Ummm, what is sheep’s pluck? I’m almost afraid to ask… lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly don’t know… and it’s probably better off that way 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to live in Scotland- so this is bringing back fond memories 😀 I’ve celebrated Burns Night before and I actually really like haggis (though I wasn’t expecting to- I was actually really scared to try it lol). I think it is really funny that you celebrated it in England- I can’t actually imagine doing that 😉 I hope you get to check out Scotland at some point while you’re in the UK!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt the same way about trying haggis for the first time– such a pleasant surprise 🙂 I have a trip planned over spring break to go to Edinburgh, and I’m super excited! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. hehe yes!! Wonderful!! I hope you have a great time (and I’m sure you will 😀 )

        Liked by 1 person

  5. emmareadstoomuch Avatar

    YOU ATE HAGGIS THAT IS SO CRAZY!!! and also so cool?? look at all these adventures in foreign locales

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha yeah it was crazy! I told myself beforehand that I would try at least one bite of it just to see what it was like, but it ended up being pretty good!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Haggis is one of these meals that has ALWAYS intrigued me, yet I don’t know if I could ever eat it, knowing what it’s actually made of, hahaha. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it and that you had a great time sounds like a fun celebration 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Marie! I definitely avoided doing a lot of research about what was in it before actually eating it… ignorance is bliss! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. No, I’ve never celebrated a Burns night, but when I was growing up – pre-teen to early teens – and a church goer, we had a very lovely minister who was Scottish born. He quoted Robbie Burns all the time. Whenever someone mentions Burns, I hear his voice and feel happy. So thank you. (Oh and I don’t think I have had haggis but hubby has because he lived in Scotland for 3 months before I met him. Does that count?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely feel like haggis-by-extension counts! 🙂 Also, that’s such a lovely memory about Burns!

      Liked by 1 person

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