Burns Night-A Celebration of Scotland’s National Poet

It’s the 25th of January, and in Scotland, that means one thing – Burns Night!

Burns Night Suppers are an annual event whereby folks in Scotland and beyond get together to celebrate and commemorate the life and works of Scotland’s beloved national poet, Robert Burns. The Suppers take place each 25th of January on the anniversary of his birthday.

Robert Burns: 1759-1796
Photo:  Public Domain

Robert Burns (also known as Robbie, Rabbie, The Ploughman Poet, and the Bard of Ayrshire) is one of Scotland’s favorite sons. You probably know him best as the man who first penned the words to “Auld Lang Syne.” Perhaps you know him by the verse that reads, “O my Luve’s like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June.” Or maybe you have a fondness for any one of Rabbie’s other 700+ works. He was a prolific writer and covered such topics as death and war, anguish and greed, religion and politics, love and sex, and many other topics in between.

Although archived and no longer updated, I discovered a BBC page dedicated to Burns that lists 716 poems and songs. It allows you to search for works by title, season, theme, and the year written. Well worth a look if you are interested in Rabbie’s poetry!

What happens at a Burns Night Celebration?

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For Auld Lang Syne

Happy New Year, friends! Wow, I can’t believe 2018 is almost here. Another year. A new beginning. A fresh start. A blank page to write upon.

What will you write on your page this year?

A decorated latte sitting on a table next to a journal and pen.

Every year when the clock strikes midnight, people around the globe jubilantly ring in the new year by singing “Auld Lang Syne.” I wonder, though, how many of us actually know what we are singing about or where the song originated. I’m reminded of the humorous exchange between Billy Crystal’s and Meg Ryan’s character at the end of one of my favorite movies – “When Harry Met Sally.”

Harry: [about Auld Lang Syne] What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?

Sally: Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.

-from “When Harry Met Sally”, 1989

Roughly translated ‘for old times’ sake’ or ‘days gone by,’ “Auld Lang Syne” is about preserving old friendships, raising a glass, and looking back with nostalgia over the events of the year. It’s a celebration of the moment and gives us hope for the future. Joy, kinship, and camaraderie – even melancholy and regret – are just some of the feelings I think this song has the power to invoke. Such is the power of music.

Auld Lang Syne sheet music resting on the keys of a piano.
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