A birthday celebration for Scotland’s son, the bard Robbie Burns

Bruce County … a region filled with Scottish heritage and, here, as in other parts of the world, Robbie (Rabbie) Burns, Scotland’s favourite son, is honoured each year on or about his birthday, January 25th.

Burns is known for his lyrical, romanticist poems, with his most famous turned into song and sung the world over, ‘Auld Lang Syne‘. The other is the unofficial national anthem of Scotland, ‘Scots Wha Hae’.

For more than 250 years, Scots the world over have celebrated his birth date (January 25, 1759) with dinners, the first of which was celebrated in Alloway, Scotland, in honour of the national poet of Scotland.

As one would expect with the name of Bruce County, the region is filled with Scottish heritage and, here, as in other parts of the world, January 25th is a time for a returning to the roots of a long heritage, where the men wear their tartan kilts and ladies their sashes, not only in memory of their ancestors who settled the new land, but to honour Scotland’s special son.

This year, in Port Elgin, St. John’s Anglican Church is hosting the traditional Robbie Burns’ dinner from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. with proceeds from the evening going toward a church member who has been left with a large medical bill in the U.S.

The evening will, of course, also include a piper, highland dancers and other entertainment.

The dinner itself is steeped in historical heritage and, part of that heritage is the long-standing menu with its classical Haggis (see recipe below), roast beef, bashed neeps (turnip), chappit tatties (potatoes) and accoutrements.

An eloquent  ‘Address to the Haggis’ will be performed by Rob Campbell, along with the traditional Selkirk Grace (see below) and toasts, including ‘The Loyal Toast’, ‘Toast tae th’ lassies’, ‘Response frae th’ lassies’ and ‘Th’ Immortal Memory’.

Selkirk Grace:
Some ha’e meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we ha’e meat and we can eat,
And tae the Lord be thankit.

Haggis Recipe:

Authentic haggis is a sheep’s stomach lining filled with minced organs, seasonings and oatmeal and simmered for hours. It’s not permissible to use a sheep’s stomach lining in North America so this is adapted.

Traditional ‘Bagless’ Haggis

1/2 lb. beef liver
2 lamb kidneys
3/4 lb. lamb shoulder
1/4 lb beef suet
2 onions, minced
1 c. oatmeal
1 c. stock
salt and pepper, nutmeg & thyme


Boil meats (offal) 2 hours. Save stock. Grind or mince meats. Add suet and onions, oatmeal and seasonings. Add enough stock to make a mixture look and feel like a meatloaf. Pour into a pan that has been well-greased. Cover with foil. Poke 2 holes in foil. Place pan in another pan filled halfway with water. Steam-bake for 2 hours at 325 degrees. Slice and serve.