31 January 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #24: January Comes to a Close...with a side of Robbie Burns.

I can't believe January is almost over! It seems like just yesterday I was prepping for our Halloween get together and now I am seeing Valentine's Day themed tinsel decorating the shelves of our grocery store. Time flies when you are braving the elements in Moose Jaw!

Our good friends, Blake and Jaclyn, provided the perfect way to close out a cold and wintry January with hearty food, friendship, and many a poem said with a night to celebrate the Scot, Robert Burns. "Who is this person?" you ask? He was a poet who lived from 1759 to 1796 and his works are well-known around the world (one of my all-time favorite hits being I'll Aye Ca' In By Yon Town...ahem). Needless to say, there is a tradition that you celebrate the life and times of this Burns fellow with a "Burns Supper" -- full on, non-stop haggis and poetry action.

So, celebrate we did! There was a vegetarian haggis, potato and leek soup, a mushroom vegetable pie, mashed potatoes, smashed parsnips, and trifle for dessert. We all contributed to the feast and to the festivities as we followed the traditional event schedule for the dinner itself. Our friends did a phenomenal job of putting together a evening that included everyone...including the haggis itself!

The evening went like this (as presented by Blake)...

Opening Remarks

The Selkirk Grace

'Some hae meat and cannot eat.
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.'

Following 'The Selkirk Grace' the guests stand as the haggis is brought to the top table. A piper leads the chef, carrying the haggis, while the guests accompany them with a slow hand clap.

The Burns poem To A Haggis, is recited.

When the line 'an cut you up wi' ready slight' is reached the haggis is cut open. The guest then toast the haggis with a glass of whisky. At this point the meal commences followed by...

The Immortal Memory - This is a short speech given usually by a special guest or organiser about Burns, his work and continued relevance today.


Toast To The Lasses - This is a light hearted address to the women present. It was traditionally an opportunity to thank the women for doing the cooking but as we now live in more enlightened times, it tends to take the form of a lighthearted dig, but genuine gratitude aimed at the women. It should never be nasty or... offensive in tone and should end on a conciliatory note. Not least because it is followed by....

The Response of the Lasses - Again this should be a light hearted dig at the men. Not the next shot fired in the gender war (guess who got to do this part!)


This is followed by the recitation of the guests favourite Burns (or other) poems, jokes or songs. The choice is yours on formal or informal.

Tea, Coffee and cakes

The evening ends with Auld Lang Syne.

It was absolutely fantastic to be among friends on a chilly winter night...eating good food, learning about a part of our friend's heritage, attempting our Scottish accents as we recited poetry, and all of us enjoying each other's company.

The Veg Haggis!


Good friends!  Good times!

Toasting the laddies...

I hope this is a tradition that carries on for many years...

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