Burns night

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Alexander Nasmyth’s well-known 1787 portrait of Robert Burns (detail), from the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK


From the name of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns (1759–1796) + night.



Burns night (plural Burns nights)

  1. An event held on the evening of 25th January in celebration of the Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns (born on that day in 1759), usually involving Scottish foods and recitals of his poetry.
    • 1859, “Aberdeen”, in James Ballantine, editor, Chronicle of the Hundredth Birthday of Robert Burns, Edinburgh; London: A[rchibald] Fullarton & Co., OCLC 932008162, page 145:
      The Upholsterers and females in the employment of Messrs. J. Allan & Sons, met on the Burns' night to tea and supper in Mrs. Sheriff's Hotel, []
    • 1956, Christina Keith, “The Background of Burns' Thought—Burns' Qualities—Burns and Rousseau—Burns and Homer—Women in Scots Literature and History—Burns as a Poet”, in The Russet Coat: A Critical Study of Burns' Poetry and of Its Background, London: Robert Hale, OCLC 751498573, page 177:
      With those hectic ‘Burns’ Nights’ when the emphasis, like their own, falls on food and drink and the absence of all things unpleasant—on the absence, in particular, of any hard thinking—they go well enough.
    • 2007, Allan Burnett, “Prologue”, in Robert Burns and All That, Edinburgh: Birlinn, →ISBN:
      In fact, Burns is the only writer whose birthday is celebrated with a party every year by people all over the globe. It's called Burns Night. Why do people celebrate Burns Night? Because Robert Burns was brilliant. And the stuff he wrote is still brilliant.
    • 2008, Barry Cryer; Graeme Garden, “Burns Night!”, in The Doings of Hamish and Dougal: You'll Have Had Your Tea?, London: Preface Publishing, Random House, →ISBN; republished London: Preface Publishing, Random House, 2009, paperback edition, →ISBN, page 261:
      We commemorate the birth of our Scottish National Poet Rabbie Burns on January 25th. Will you two organise the traditional Burns Night Supper? Yes or no? Yes? Splendid. Over to you. Goodbye.
    • 2009, Jamie Grant, “The Scots”, in CultureShock! Scotland: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette (CultureShock!), 4th edition, Tarrytown, N.Y.: Marshall Cavendish, →ISBN, pages 44–45:
      Burns Night is a social occasion, when friends gather to eat haggis (the famous Scottish dish), tatties (potatoes) and neeps (turnips) and drink a wee dram (a small drink of spirits) or two to Burns' dear departed ghost. The night is also filled with ritual. The haggis is traditionally brought to the table accompanied by a piper playing traditional tunes on the bagpipes, where Burns' 'An Ode to the Haggis' is read out to much applause.


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