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Celebrate Burns’ Night

Unleash your own creativity on this poetic festival.
Learn about:
  • What is Burns’ Night?
  • Burns’ Night supper
  • Sharing your favourite poems
  • Sharing your own writings
  • Humanitarian values
  • Your private Burns Night commitment




Robbie Burns is Scotland’s national poet. He was born in Ayrshire in 1759 and is remembered for many poems, including A Red, Red Rose and of course Auld Lang Syne. He is central to the literary heritage of Scotland, but Burns’ Night – his birthday - is now increasingly celebrated in other countries, especially those places where Scots have settled.
However, you do not have to be Scottish to enter into the custom of Burn’s Night. January is almost over, it’s time to look to the future and enjoy exploring your own creative potential.


It’s traditional to celebrate Burns’ Night with a special supper and poetry. Haggis, which is a type of pudding made from sheep’s meat is central. If you’re vegetarian it’s easy to find a veggie option in many supermarkets, with a pleasantly spiced sausage-like flavour. In a full-blown Burns Night ‘do’ the haggis is carried in to the playing of bagpipes.
The usual choice of drink is whisky, of course. You could sample malts or blends. If you don’t want alcohol, ginger beer could be a suitable substitute, or anything else that’s going to refresh you and stimulate those creative juices.
Wearing a little tartan helps to set the scene for the evening, and anyone entitled to wear a kilt can now show off their legs!
In addition to food, poetry is recited, focussing firstly on the Bard’s own verses. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Other poetry can be read out, especially anything you have written yourself. 
You can have your own Burns Night supper, with just a few friends and family, if you wish.- using it to brighten up a bleak time of year with some laughter and new ideas.


Is there a poem you’ve always loved or an excerpt from a book that you think is really memorable, and you want to share? Burns Night is the occasion for reading these out and giving pleasure to others.
Words of beauty and wisdom often ‘stick’ and can be a big ‘wake up call’ to anyone going through a difficult time. This is most definitely not about preaching to others – it’s about making people feel understood and not alone. Burns Night suppers can be supportive as well as inspiring – it’s what the bardic tradition is all about.


Have you ever written a poem? Maybe you’ve written a prose passage describing something moving, or merely interesting. It’s customary on Burns Night to read this out to the assembled company.
This can take a lot of courage but when you receive a warm reception it can spur you on to try more writing. Chances are you’re better than you think. You may strike a chord and find that lots of people are on the same wavelength as you.


Burns was known for his support of liberalism and human rights. In fact there is an award called The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award supported by South Ayrshire council. On Burns Night it is a good idea to remember these values and maybe make a pledge to support some charity or community venture.
If you are holding a Burns Night supper it could be a pleasant idea to start a humanitarian project now. Obviously it is important that guests do not feel manipulated or pushed into agreeing to anything they might regret. However, if you wish to begin planning something, now could be the moment to announce it.
For instance you might decide to do a sponsored activity to raise money for a good cause or help people who are disabled or homeless. Now you have everyone together you can spread the word. After making a public commitment you are much more likely to keep to your resolve.


If you’re a bit shy you may not enjoy the idea of strutting your stuff on Burns Night. Even if you’re a true ‘party animal’ there’s more to Burns Night than having a knees up. As the days lengthen and the end of January beckons you may like to think about how well you’re expressing your talents and how you could develop yourself.
What have you always wanted to do? This does not have to be anything for which you’ve displayed an aptitude – it can simply be something you want to try. And you won’t know until you put it to the test. If you want to open up your life, explore new possibilities and stretch yourself a little, this is the perfect occasion.
It’s also a great time for a Kindness Commitment. Do you think the world is a rather sad place, with all the conflict and cruelty? Be part of the change by resolving to do one kind deed per week. Or maybe a small deed each day – whatever feels ‘do-able’.
Let Burns Night be the beginning of a really creative change for you.



Burns Night offers you a chance to turn your life around, expressing yourself more fully and also feeling part of something greater than yourself. It can be a really cheering occasion, but if you’re finding life hard at the moment, Burns Night, like most other festivals, can make you feel even more alone and/or negative. Don’t worry – our empathic team of readers will have a solution for you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch and turn a corner. Let the poet’s birthday be the date you begin to move on.



PUBLISHED: 22 January 2018

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