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12 Things to Know About Robbie Burns Night from a couple of Newby’s

By Kari Fox-Newby

Members of The Flagstaff Scottish Club are getting excited to present our annual Robbie Burns Night in only two weeks time. If you haven’t gotten your tickets, you better get on that as this 14th annual event is very close to selling out. Perhaps you have never attended before or have a few questions about this Robbie Burns and why he has his own night.

This will be my family’s second time in attendance, which makes us relative newbies as well as Newby’s. Last year I joined the Battle River Pipes and Drums Band in January and by Burns Night I was just getting the hang of playing scales on my practice chanter and didn’t even own a kilt of my own. This year I will be playing with the band to pipe in the Haggis and I not only have a kilt, but know how to wear it! I’ve learned a few things since last year, and thought maybe some other folks out there would appreciate a little insider knowledge.

1. Who is this Robbie Burns, and why do we celebrate him when the air hurts our face?

Robert Burns was a poet, a ladies man and all around Scottish celebrity... about 200 years ago. Most people know his song Auld Lang Syne. His birthday was January 25, 1759, which is why we celebrate him in the cold hard heart of winter. Flagstaff Scottish Club chooses to celebrate shortly after the actual day in order to allow members to attend Robbie Burns Day events put on in other communities like Vermilion. Not to mention, some of the folks there like to come to our event as well, and we heartily welcome you all!

2. What is in Haggis and why is it served for Burns night?

Like many traditional delicacies, it might be best not to look too closely at the recipe. Just know that no one has ever died from eating haggis, (I’m pretty sure) and it’s a quite tasty savoury side dish. My husband and I think it tastes similar to turkey stuffing with a little meat and spice mixed in. On Burns night it is served with a side of poetry written by the Scottish bard himself. There is a bit of a ceremonial presentation you have to experience to fully appreciate. Did I mention it involves an entire Pipes and Drums band?