The haggis laid on the table.
A Nyonya in UK, Culture, Dinner, Restaurant, Review

What is Burns night?

Burns night is a celebration of the poet Robert Burn’s birthday.

Did you know that at one time the largest celebration of Burn’s was in Russia?

Because of his famous words ” A man is a man for all that.” .. ,it means that inspite of being a common man or a lord, you are a human being.

This resonates well with the communists. It is about all man are equal. Well, Burns is in the same period as Lenin and Trotsky, so these 3 are the ‘heroes’ of that time.

We had a Chinese new year eve dinner last night. And this morning we had our Buddhist 2020 celebration meeting. It is a ‘kick-off’ meeting to start the year 2020, and so happens that today is the 1st day of  year of the Rat. This is a good start for the whole year.

So for tonight’s meal, we head to the Nags Head at Stapleton near us. The friendly staff ushers us  to our table quickly. The table is set with Scottish prints and  decorations.

A glass with thistle decoration
A table laid with Scottish decoration. A glass with a thistle.


A set of cutlery with the Scottish Flag
The cutlery set is wrapped in kilt design napkin with a Scottish flag and a photo of Robert Burns.

There are a several tables with men in kilts, and my other half kicks himself for not wearing his.

We start with a wee dram of whisky.

The the bag piper emerges playing Scottish music. Then comes the Haggis. The chef parades the Haggis around the tables.

The bag-piper in action, going round the room.
The bag-piper doing his round.

The chef carrying the Haggis is Asian!! Haggis is made of suet, barley, offals of the lamb and encased in a sheep stomach. It is then steamed. Traditionally poor people would eat this as a main course.

The haggis laid on the table.
The haggis is laid down on a table and the reading of the poem begins.

Nowadays, restaurant would served this as a starter. This evening, it is served as an in-between. That is, we have the starter and then the Haggis.

After the parade, the haggis, which is oblong in shape, is displayed on the table. Shortly after that a man in kilt reads the poem, ‘Address to the Haggis’ in Scottish English, gesturing the knife, trying to stab the Haggis. I cannot make out what is actually spoken, but I can hear ‘Haggis’ at the end. This reminds me of the time when I visited my brother- in-law’s house and they were chatting. I could not understand what they were talking about and I went to bed!

Poem in honour of the haggis.
The true blue Scots reciting the poem about the haggis as written by Robert Burns.

In a traditional burns night there would be poetry reading and a toast in between each reading.

There is a reading of the Selkirk Grace. Actually, copies of the grace are placed on the table. Here it is, in Scottish English.

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat,

And sae let the Lord be thankit.

Does the above makes sense? I know the whole meaning of the grace, but I don’t understand the construction of the sentence. Well my Scottish other half says that is how it was written by Burns. Try understanding Auld lang syne. Auld lang syne means days long gone by.

There is nowhere where in the poem that says ” for the sake of auld lang syne. It is “for auld lang syne”. So the song that we have being singing has ‘the sake of’ added to it. So we stand corrected.

Of course, I don’t eat red meat nor offal. So my other half and my daughter eat my share.

The haggis serves in a posh manner with mash and sauce.
The haggis  with swede, mash and gravy and garnished with pea shoots.. Posh!


Cullen Skink, a traditional Scottish soup.
Cullen skink soup garnished with chopped chives served with a dinner roll.

My starter is Cullen Skink. This traditional Scottish soup is made with smoked haddock, potatoes whole milk and other flavourings. This one is ok. I have tasted better ones in Scotland ( of course!). My then brother-in-law who is a chef, makes the best one that I have tasted. This is one of my favourite Scottish soups, which I have yet to make. The other is the cock-a-leekie. I do make a good one.

Main dish is venison.
One of the mains is venison.


Pan fried salmon
Pan fried salmon served on a bed of potatoes and vegetables.

I have the pan fried salmon. The lightly fried salmon is not to my liking. I prefer mine well done.

Clootie Dumpling
Cootie Dumpling is a traditional steamed Scottish pudding is made with dried fruit and spices. Enjoy on Burns night with a wee dram and custard or ice cream to serve.

I have my Clootie Dumpling with custard.

The cheese board
The cheese board to end the meal.

To sum it all, it is a jolly good night to do something different.  This is the first time that I celebrate Chinese New Year and Burns night and a Buddhist 2020 celebration day to kick start the new year! Triple Joy!

I hope you enjoy this post. Please like and share this. If you have experience any Burns night celebration, do let me know how it goes.

Cheers for now.

Penang Lassie

Here is the link to The Nags Head.

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