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The History of Burns Night

With Burns Night coming up, we thought it would be great to explain the history of this traditional Scottish event.

A key part of the culture of Scotland, we’ve run this annual supper for several years now, with the upcoming one on 25th January set to be one of the biggest we’ve done. In fact, it’s fully booked - if you'd like to get yourselves on the reserve list, just in case there's a cancellation, please call us!

But why is Burns Night so important? What is the history behind it? And what can you expect from this authentic Scottish supper? We’ve answered all your questions just below.

What is Burns Night?

Burns Night and Burns Supper is a celebration of the life and poetry of Robert Burns, who passed away on 21st July 1796.

He was the author of many Scots poems like “Address to the Diel” and the popular “Auld Lang Syne.”

When was the first Burns Supper?

Many believe that as Robert Burns Day falls on his birthday, the 25th January every year, that the first Burns Supper happened on the same day.

In fact, the first Burns supper was held way back on 21st July 1801 (the fifth anniversary of his death), at Burns Cottage by Burns’s friends – in memory of Robert Burns.

The following year, it was held on what they believed was his birthday on the 29th January, which was corrected in 1803, after they discovered Ayr parish records that noted his date of birth to be the 25th.

What happens at a Burns Supper?

We follow the traditional order of a Burns Night celebration, with a couple of Perkins twists to streamline the whole affair and bring it into the modern-day.

For example, there are supposed to be several toasts throughout the night, including an Address to the Lassis in which the male guests thank the women who had prepared the meal… Our talented kitchen team is made up of women and men, so that doesn’t really make sense to do.

Here is what you can expect at Perkins:

  1. Piping in guests – yep, we have a piper ready to welcome you all to Perkins! Cameron Brownlie is incredibly talented on the bagpipes. During this, we will also address the haggis and read one of Burns’ poems, after which we will toast with some fine whisky.

  2. Soup course – Burns supper always starts with soup, and we’ve gone for an authentic Cullen skink. A smoked haddock, whisky & potato soup.

  3. Haggis – Normally for the second course, everyone stands as the haggis is brought in, introduced into the room by the piper. But we’re not that strict and will bring out a beautifully prepared dish of haggis, neeps & tatties with a Drambuie cream sauce.

  4. Main Course – This is a little Perkins twist on the order of events, as we will be serving a beautifully slow-braised ox cheek with thyme fondant potato, savoy cabbage and roast parsnips, drizzled with red wine jus.

  5. Other courses – a dessert, cheese and coffee course using traditional Scottish recipes finish the Burns supper, and we’ve got some beautiful dishes for these.

  • For dessert, Cranachan. Caramelised oats with whisky soaked raspberries

  • Mull of Kintyre cheddar and Strathdon blue cheese, served with Scottish oatcakes and homemade chutney

  • And to finish, coffee with homemade shortbread.


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