06 Jul, Wednesday
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HOW TO: Celebrate Burn’s Night!

HOW TO: Celebrate Burn’s Night!


Celebrating Burn’s Night this weekend? We’ve put together a few elements from the traditional itinerary for a fun night in with your friends – here’s how to cook up a Scottish supper and pay tribute to Robert Burns, the poet behind old favourite Auld Lang Syne! Don’t worry, if you don’t fancy a plate of haggis, there are plenty of other ways to get involved… don’t forget to wear tartan!

Host’s welcoming speech

If you’re hosting, you’re going to need to prepare a speech. A few words welcoming everyone to your humble abode and introducing the theme of the evening is a good start. Once all the guests are seated, you need to say ‘Selkirk Grace’, a well-known thanksgiving said before meals, using the Scots language. Robert Burns was once said to have delivered it at a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk. Here it is!

The Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.

The supper usually starts with a soup, such as Scotch Broth, Potato Soup or Cock-a-Leekie. You can’t beat chicken soup in this freezing weather, so here’s a recipe to try:

Cock-a-leekie Soup

Makes 4 servings

Preraration time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1½ hrs


  • 450g skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/3 cup long grain rice
  • 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley


1. Combine the chicken, stock, and bay leaves in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any foam. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, skimming occasionally, for 30 minutes.

2. Add the rice, leeks, carrots, and cloves, and season with salt and pepper. Return to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover again. Simmer about 30 minutes more, until the chicken shows no sign of pink at the bone.

3. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the chicken to a carving board, cool, remove the meat from the bones, chop it into bite-size pieces, and return it to the soup.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.

Traditional Cock-a-Leekie Soup includes pitted prunes (not to everyone’s tastes!) If you fancy, add a few when it’s time to add the vegetables at Step 2. If you’re watching your weight, the soup can be made with lean turkey meat instead of chicken. Why not add other vegetables such as peas, grated turnips, or potatoes, too?

Toast to the Lassies

Next up, it’s time to thank the people who made the main meal possible – usually haggis, neeps and tatties. This has traditionally been women, hence the title, but nowadays it is much more wide-ranging and generally covers a male speaker’s view on women in general (dangerous!) The male guest taking on this challenge is advised to keep it amusing, but inoffensive…

Reply to the Toast to the Lassies

A chance to get our own back, the ‘Toast to the Laddies’ sees a female guest give her views on men and reply to any specific points raised by the previous speaker. Keep it clean!


Now’s the time to read a poem or two by the man this is all in aid of, Robert Burns. You can find dozens online! The host should then call on one of the guests to give the vote of thanks, after which everyone is asked to stand, join hands, and sing New Year’s Eve favourite Auld Lang Syne. Will we ever get a chance to sing that song sober…?

Have a great time and don’t forget to send us your photos!

Amy @ Fashionbite xx

Amy Everett is FashionBite's food and travel editor, she also writes for national newspapers and magazines including the Guardian Travel, Stylist, Shortlist, Red, Cosmopolitan and more.

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