It’s time to celebrate the bard Robbie Burns

Bruce County is 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.

The national poet of Scotland, who wrote lyrics and songs in Scots and in English was also famous for his amours and his rebellion against orthodox religion and morality.

As with many Scots. the names are recognized throughout Bruce County as Burns’s father traveled to several communities that are recognized through their names with those in Bruce County … to Ayrshire from Kincardineshire in an endeavour to improve his fortunes, but, though he worked immensely hard first on the farm of Mount Oliphant, which he leased in 1766, and then on that of Lochlea, which he took in 1777, ill luck dogged him, and he died in 1784, worn out and bankrupt.

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.

Evenings of celebration also include a piper, highland dancers and other entertainment.

Each historical 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’ is also performed, 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.