Sunday, January 25, 2004

Break out the haggis

Tonight is Burns Night - the birthday of poet Robert Burns, the consummate Scot. A few years after his death in 1796, friends and admirers of Burns began meeting on his birthday for the 'Burns Supper' as a tribute to his memory. Burns Night has since become a tradition celebrated primarily in Scotland, but also in Northern Ireland and other places where people of Scottish descent live.

I first heard of Rabbie Burns through a song of his called "The Battle Of Sherramuir". The song talks about a historical battle fought near Dunblane on 13 November 1715 between the Jacobite army led by John Erskine, earl of Mar, and a loyalist army under John Campbell, second earl of Argyll. The loyalist army was smaller, but they occupied higher ground, and neither army could gain the upper hand. Eventually the battle broke off, and the soldiers just took off running in opposite directions... but when they got to their respective homes, both armies were singing "we won the battle, we won the battle", telling tales about their brave and gory deeds :)

Being vegetarian, and of reasonably sound mind, I'll pass on the haggis... but I might raise a glass and toast a lass (I know just the one) in honor of Burns, and the Scottish spirit that he helped keep alive after words became mightier than swords.