Old Scotland wants no watery stuff,
That splashes in small wooden dishes;
But if you wish her grateful prayer,
Give her [Scotland] a Haggis!
With these words from Robert Burns’s “Ode to Haggis”, Iain Leyden, a “Scots in Poland” organisation board member, solemnly inaugurated the first Wroclaw meeting – Robert Burns Night. It is a Scottish holiday celebrated in honor of the national prophet of the Scots, and celebrated around the supposed day of his birth, i.e. on January 25th. One the main ceremonial is the habit of drinking whisky at the poet’s monument.
Robert Burns’s poems praise the charms of simple life and family happiness and are almost completely devoid of sublime contemplations, drawing simple, peasant life truths from common everyday events. To celebrate the birthday and poetry of their prophet, the Scots organise a gala dinner in honour of haggis (a traditional regional dish), women and whiskey.
Martyn O’Reilly, a promoter of Scottish culture and whisky in Poland, conducted the ceremony, which, in pursuance of tradition, began with the solemn bringing of the haggis to the sound of Scottish bagpipes and the dramatic recitation of the “Ode to Haggis”. Further parts of the dinner are whiske toasts: to haggis toast, to ladies and to men, as well as reading the poet’s poems with accompaniment of traditional music.
A night warmed by food, drink, friendship and poetry, a celebration of the life and work of the Scottish national bard Robert Burns, is the quintessence of a traditional Scottish event that has become a holiday for Scots and non-Scots around the world.