January 25th is Burns Night, a celebration of the life of the Scottish poet Robert Burns who was born 25th January 1759 in Alloway, South Ayrshire. Robert wrote over 300 songs and poems, the most famous of these being Tam O’ Shanter, a poem that tells the story of the drinking classes in his hometown of Ayr. Robert’s poems told tales of love, friendship, work, and drinking, and were interspersed with hilarity and sympathy. Robert died in 1796 at the age of 37.
Burns Night is special to us here in Corby, Corby is known to many as Little Scotland due to the high number of Scottish workers who moved here for the Steelworks in the 1930s. By 1961 a third of the population of Corby had been born in Scotland. For this reason, the people of Corby feel a close affinity with the Scots and their traditions.
Burns Night is celebrated across the UK with drinking, dancing, and feasting on Scotland’s national dish, Haggis. The Haggis is traditionally served with “neeps and tatties” neeps being turnips which is the Scottish name for the vegetable that we in England know as swede and tatties being mashed potatoes. Haggis is a dish that splits the room, some of us love it, and some of us do not.
We had a wonderful day celebrating, we read a few of Robert’s poems, we learned a lot about his short life and then we dined on the traditional Burns Night fayre. The Haggis was paraded around the room and was then addressed in true Burns Night style. We were even lucky enough to have a local piper named Michelle play. Playing the bagpipes is quite a skill and she made it look so easy.
We finished our lunch with more poetry and the obligatory whiskey or two, it would have been rude not to. It was a fabulous day.