Robbie Burns Night- Jan. 2010
Haggis, bagpipe music, highland dances, songs and poetry are all part of the celebrations when Sackville pays tribute to the great bard, Robbie Burns on the anniversary of his birthday.
If you have never eaten haggis you should probably reserve your tickets for the pre-show scotch tasting event, as you might need the liquid courage. Haggis was a traditional meal for the thrifty, hard working people of Scotland, and Robbie Burns’ felt it symbolized the Scottish spirit.
But when people speak of haggis it is often with a mix of fear and laughter because of the mysterious cooking style and ingredients; it was traditionally made out of a cooked, stuffed sheep’s stomach filled with a mash of cooked organs, oatmeal and spices.
“Jean Scobie makes the real haggis for the event; there are sheep intestines and oatmeal, and there are all kinds of things that you really don’t want to know about”, says Meredith Fisher, one of the main organizers of the event, “But it is a big attraction, when people hear there is a Burns Night they always ask, ‘Are you having Haggis’? And we can say ‘Yes, we are having Haggis’”!
A Robbie Burns night follows the same traditions all over the world. The night officially begins with the piping in of the Haggis and The Address to the Haggis. “It has to be on a specific silver slaver, and you have to have a dagger to cut it. Then you ‘Address the Haggis’ and then you have the ‘Selkirk Grace’” says Meredith.
“There is a real traditional program that goes with a Burns night” says Meredith, “there are many proud traditions that the Scots continue to this day”. The Address to the Haggis and The Selkirk Grace will be read by Charlie Scobie, who with his wife Jean are the ones that keep the traditions going.
Robbie Burns was a pioneer of the Romantic movement and a source of inspiration to the founders of Liberalism. His poetry sang the praises of the common man; in his famous poem, ‘ A Man’s a Man for a That’ he argues that riches do not make one man superior to another. And this sentiment is strong in the tribute to haggis, the working man’s meal that used up every bit of meat and leftovers and fed the strong working Scottish people.
Sackville has had Robbie Burns celebrations for years in private homes but it was last year that they had their first public party.
“Last year was the first year that we did at as a public event at a big theater because it was the 250th anniversary of Robbie Burns”, says Meredith, “It was a big celebration, and there was about one hundred people. All the Scots came out of the woodwork, dressed in their tartans and their family crests. Scottish people are very proud of their background. And. then there are always the people who are real scotch drinkers who enjoy that kind of an evening. All kinds of people come for different reasons”.
At the Burns Supper you can pile on some “Neeps and Tatties’, a traditional Scottish dish made from turnips and potatoes, along with the haggis. Meredith says the food is entirely voluntary and no one will be forced to eat anything if they don’t want to.
The entertainment begins at eight with Margaret Eaton playing the Celtic Harp and an on-going slide show of the Scottish countryside in the background.. “This will get people in the mood of being in Scotland”, says Meredith, “and next there will be three dances by a local Highland dancing troupe.”
Once the audience has sipped their scotch, tasted the Haggis and watched the lovely lassies dance, the evening continues with readings by Sandy Burnett, an actor, singer, and a very active community member. “He is an environmentalist and a writer, and an all round amazing guy”, says Meredith, “But the Robbie Burns night is his passion, he has been on the committee for the last two years and his vision is part of the whole outline for the program, and the way the whole event works out”.
Burnett will do two or three short readings, and then local actor Robert Lapp and Mount Allsion university student Liz MacDonald will “ be singing and doing some back and forths between poems and songs”.
An important ritual in the Robbie Burns evening is the Toast to the Lassies and the Reply. The toast, usually somewhat serious with some humor thrown in, will be done by Rob Summerby-Murray. This is an unscripted speech, as is the response to the Toast, which will be given by Jean Scobie.
Following the toasts, the crowd will all sing together some well known Scottish songs, as well as the Burn’s most well known song, Auld Lang Syne, known to everyone as the song that we all sing with great emotion at the end of a festive new year’s eve.
In the denouement everybody is invited for coffee and a desert called Cranachan (made up of cream, Drambuie, and the ubiquitous oatmeal).
“We hope to have a bigger crowd then last time, says Meredith, “ Usually when you do an event for the second time it kind of takes off, especially if you’ve had a successful event the first time, people bring friends the next time around”.
When musing on the population of actual Scottish people in Sackville, Meredith commented that “Most of us have ancestors or relatives from Scotland, and some people still have the accent, which is really great, because in the whole Robbie Burns program it is the Scottish accent that people love to hear”.
Proceeds from the event will go Live Bait’s educational and community programs.
The Address To the Haggis
By Robbie Burns
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place
Painch, tripe or thairm.
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
(sonsie = cheerful)
(aboon = above)
(painch = stomach)
(thairm = intestine)
And ome hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit –
What – Robbie Burns Night at Live Bait Theater
When – Saturday January 23, 2010
6:30 pm – Spirits of Scotland – Single Malts of the Highlands and the Islands
Tasting guided by Jon Parsons, a local malt connoisseur.
8:00 pm – Robbie Burns Night – Supper and Entertainment
A limited amount of tickets are available.
The Tasting is separate from the Supper. Tickets cost $15.00 and are sold only in combination with the tickets for the Burns Supper, which cost $25.00 per person.
Reservations may be made for individuals or tables of eight by calling the Live Bait box office at 506-536-2248 or at web site :