Burns Supper in Oulu

The idea of Burns Suppers

A Burns Supper is a traditional celebration held by Scots to honor Robert [Rabbie] Burns (1759 to 1796), their most famous poet.


Suppers have been held regularly since a few years after Burns’ death, first by a few close friends but more recently by Scots generally and, indeed, by admirers across the world.  Burns Suppers can be large and elaborate or small and intimate.


There are, however, a few essential ingredients which are included in a Burns Supper  programe.


Every Burns Supper includes Haggis. Haggis is “poor men’s food” and therefore tasty – after all, the poor men had to learn how to cook well if the rich men took all the ‘best bits’.  It is traditionally served with mashed ‘neeps’ [lanttumuusi] and mashed ‘tatties’ [perunamuusi].


The supper also follows a traditional programme. This can be very elaborate, or quite simple.  There are always (at least!) four recitations or speeches:

  • the poem ‘Address to the Haggis’ [“Tervehdyspuhe Haggikselle”] written by Burns, shows his opinion of the noble dish
  • the ‘Immortal Memory’ [“Kuolematon Muisto”] recalls Burns the man, and at least some of his legacy
  • finally the two Toasts acknowledge one of Burns’ abiding interests – women. The ‘Toast to the Lassies’ [“Maljapuhe Naisille”] lets us Laddies [miehet] say how wise Burns was in his admiration, while the ‘Reply for the Lassies’ [“Vastaus naisilta”] (normally) emphasises that men had better remember that!


In addition it is usual to recite or perform a selection of Burn’s poetry or songs (for he was a prolific song writer and collector too).


The object of the Supper, besides commemorating a great poet and his contribution to civilisation, is one of which he would heartily approve --- to enjoy ourselves in good company.