As all of you know, today is the birthday of the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns. And on his birthday, his 246th, I invite you to join me in what most Scots are doing this evening…reading his poetry, eating haggis, dancing, and getting fall-down-drunk… I'll bring the haggis...BYOB.
Although to read Mr. Burns’ poetry you will oft be referring to the translations in the side notes, you are probably more familiar with his words than you may know… “The best-laid schemes of mice and men…” “My love is like a red, red rose…” "Should auld acquiantance be forgot..."
My first Burn’s Night in Scotland I was in Edinburgh in the Morningside chapel (if Sean Connery had been a Mormon he would have been in that ward…) and we had brought an investigator with us to the party so that we were there to have a good time…legally…
Everyone wore their kilts and hats and long socks and vests and drapey things and brooches, and daggers and furry purses (the sporran)… Everyone looked marvelous.
Someone stood and read the “Address to a Haggis”:
“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ grace
An lang’s my arm.”
It goes on for 7 more stanzas...
Highlights of the poem:
“chieftain o’ the pudding race!” (keep in mind it’s a pudding of guts, spices, and oatmeal…it’s the Ghengis Khan of the pudding race…it scares all the other puddings… did I mention it’s baked in a sheep’s stomach…)
that the haggis is as long as his arm
you raise your knife and plunge it into the shiny haggis for it to burst its entrails in a “glorious sight”
the French can keep their ragout
the Italians can keep their fricassee
but give me the stout, honest fare of a good rustic haggis and thank your luck stars that you’re a Scot
and if you love your country: “wish her gratefu’ prayer, Gie her a haggis!”
you get the general idea…
And I ate haggis for the first time, and instead of eating it gone, I mixed it into my tatties (potatoes, you perverts…) and created a bust of Burns himself (that’s a sculpture, you perverts…).
And then the dancing…. You see, you know how as Americans, chances are you learned some square dancing somewhere in your education? Well the Scots learn “flingin’” or the “auld” (old) dances. As sister missionaries, we were the shoe-in partners for all the spinster ladies in the ward. They fought over us like the last spoonful of trifle, and I got plenty of coquettish smiles and winks to boot!