Burn's Night: Whisky and Bard of Ayrshire

“Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?”

The thing is, if you have pioneered Romanticism, and happen to be Scotland’s national poet too, the people never forget you, no matter how old an acquaintance you are. Instead, there is a yearly celebration, and a night is dedicated to the memory of the poet, fondly called the Bard of Ayrshire. The person in question is none other than Robert Burns, first of his name, poet and lyricist, Scotland’s beloved hero.

Popular as he might’ve been, there was no celebration in his name during his time. Burn’s Night was an accidental occurrence. In 1801, when nine of Robert’s dear friends met for a late supper on his fifth death anniversary, they were looking for a night of remembrance, with haggis, whisky, and their deceased friend’s verses for company. After they had raised a toast to their friend, and poet, they decided to gather together for Robbie’s (for that’s what his friends liked to call him) birthday, months later in January next year. Soon, the congregation grew in strength, as there were many who loved the poet. It became a ritual to recite his verses at such gatherings, sky rocketing Burn’s popularity. Sir Walter Scott arranged for the biggest Burn’s Night supper gathering in 1815, and since then, both the bard and the celebration has gone viral.

So, that’s the story behind Burn’s Night. Celebrating the beacon of romanticism called for something special. And, what could be more special than raising a toast with a shot of Scotch? The Burn’s night gatherings caught the public imagination, and soon Robert Burns became synonymous with both poetry, and whisky. Whisky, and haggis are an inseparable part of the celebrations, just as much as reciting verses by the Robbie Burns.

 

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