He was only 37 year old when he died in 1796 but Scots and poetry lovers have celebrated his life every year since on his birthday, January 25. Who, may you wonder, gets such celebration and tribute? Well, it be the bard Robbie Burns. His life is celebrated with traditional dinners of haggis and neeps, drinks of whisky and the reciting of poems.
This year, the Robbie Burns dinner will be held on Sunday, January 26, just a night past the poet’s birthday. The Sooke Pipes and Drums will pipe in the haggis and lead the evening with toasts, boasts and laughs. While some parts of the evening will be formal, most of the formalities are fun. It’s an opportunity to wear your kilt, sport the tartan and be a wee bit Scottish for the night.
There are some tips for those men who may want to don a kilt for the first time. Try to practice sitting, standing and bending in your kilt. When you sit down, make sure the front of the kilt falls between your legs to avoid embarrassment for anyone facing you. When you stand up, sweep your hand over the back of your kilt to make sure the pleats are flat. Weigh your sporran down and have fun.
The evening is a major fund-raiser for the Sooke Pipes and Drums band and is usually well attended by those with and without Scottish blood cursing through their veins. The evening will have a live and silent auction with lots of good donated items.
Brenda Parkinson, band manager, said the band performs at 20-25 events a year, most of them in Sooke.
“You’d be surprised how many people ask for them for weddings,” she said. “They also do Robbie Burns events at Ayre Manor Lodge and the Rotary lunch, as well as the dinner at the Legion.”
The Robbie Burns dinner takes place at the Sooke Legion, Branch #54. Cocktails at 5 p.m. and dinner is at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at the Legion bar.
Things you may not know:
• American music legend Bob Dylan selected Burns’ 1794 song ‘A Red, Red Rose’ when asked for the source of his greatest creative inspiration.
• A translation of ‘My Hearts in the Highlands’ was adopted as the marching song of the Chinese resistance fighters in the Second World War.
• After Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, Robert Burns has more statues dedicated to him around the world than any other non-religious figure, 10,000 went to his funeral.
• Burns fathered at least 12 children with four different women during his short 37 year lifetime. His youngest child, Maxwell, was born on the day of his funeral.
Robbie Burns Dinner details
When: Sunday, January 26
Where: Sooke Legion Branch 54, 6726 Eustace Road
Time: Cocktail: 5 p.m.
Dinner: 6 p.m.
Tickets: Legion bar, $35 includes the haggis, taters and neeps, all the fixings of a traditional Robbie Burns dinner, and the entertainment and frivolities.