In the dark days of late January, Scots the world over celebrate Burns Night. As we are located in the heart of Edinburgh, Hamilton & Inches also joins in the celebrations. So pour yourself a wee dram, gather close to the fire and explore the secrets behind a truly authentic Burns Night supper.
Celebrating the ultimate carouser
The 25th of January marks the birthday of Scotland’s most renowned poet Robert Burns, also known as ‘Rabbie’ Burns. Born in 1759 in rural Ayrshire, the characterful Burns championed the Scots language. In the 21st century, he is still an integral part of Scotland’s cultural identity.
Elevate your style
“O wad some Power the giftie gie us,
to see oursels as ithers see us!”
- Robert Burns
Wearing a kilt, sash or other splash of tartan is highly appropriate on Burns Night. One of our accessories crafted here in Scotland will elevate your apparel still further.
A sterling silver kilt pin against tartan always looks impressive.
Alternatively our cufflinks collection include sterling silver Highland cow or stag head cufflinks, as well as pieces incorporating Peterhead granite, marble from the Isle of Iona and agate from Montrose.
Bagpipes and the Selkirk Grace
Bagpipes herald the start of the supper, with guests being piped into the room. A prayer of thanks follows, first recited by Burns at a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk in 1794:
“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.”
- Robert Burns
Parade of the Chieftain
On Burns Night, the focus is on the ‘great chieftain’. This is not a person, but the culinary delicacy of the haggis itself. Piped in on a silver platter, guests stand and slow clap its progress towards the head of the table.
Address to a Haggis
As the haggis is set down, the host or another honoured guest delivers Burns’ iconic poem praising this Scottish dish. Address to a Haggis is best delivered with force, theatricality, and humour.
On the line ‘An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht’, the speaker plunges a knife into the haggis. This should be the wearer’s sgian dubh (pronounced skee-an-doo), the small single-bladed knife tucked into the top of a man’s kilt sock.
Should you need one to complete your traditional Highland dress outfit, our collection includes:
A menu of delights
Haggis, or ‘tagais’ in Scottish Gaelic, is akin to a sausage mince made up of diced innards, onions, salt and spices.
This ‘great chieftain’ is traditionally served with ‘neeps and tatties’. Neeps are turnips, known as swedes by the English. Tatties means potatoes. When mashed together, they act as a creamy counterbalance to the richness of the haggis.
The rest of the menu can be tailored to taste. One option would be Cullen Skink, a velvety soup of smoked haddock, leeks and chives. Alternatively Cock-a-leekie is a delicious broth of chicken and leek.
For dessert, Cranachan is a delight of toasted oats, raspberries, honey, double cream and a splash of whisky. There may also be a Clootie Dumpling – a little like a lighter version of a Christmas pudding. The wonderfully named Typsy Laird may also be served, which is a delicious sherry trifle.
A toast to your good health
The drink of the evening is of course Scotch whisky. Toasts are raised throughout the meal to the haggis, Burns, friends and to life. Traditionally a male guest raises a ‘Toast to the Lassies’, to which a female guest will offer a witty riposte.
One of our crystalware collections in particular would complement any Burns supper celebration. Designed by Hamilton & Inches, the Thistle range is crafted by Cumbria Crystal. They are the United Kingdom’s only remaining creators of completely hand-blown and hand-cut lead crystal. Many of their items have been showcased in James Bond, Downton Abbey and period dramas.
Our Thistle Collection includes beautiful whisky tumblers, a decanter and an ice bucket, as well as coupe glasses, wine glasses, port glasses, highball glasses and champagne flutes.
We'll take a cup o'kindness yet
A Burns Night supper is the ideal occasion to display family heirlooms, such as silver quaiches. The word ‘quaich’ is derived from the Scottish Gaelic ‘cuach’, meaning shallow cup. The two or three handled designs symbolise friendship and trust. Historically, the drinking cup is filled with whisky and then passed around a gathering. The smaller designs also work as table-salt bowls.
Our quaich collection include silverware with handles or ‘lugs’ in the shape of stags, Highland cattle, ospreys and thistles.
All can be engraved to commemorate a special occasion such as a wedding, christening or a memorable Burns Night. By doing so, you are emulating Burns himself, who etched his words on pewter plates and windowpanes across Scotland. Read more in Making His Mark: The Hand-Engravings Of Robert Burns
Pause for poetry
“O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.”
- Robert Burns
As well as the Address to a Haggis, guests are encouraged to recite or sing Burns’ poetry throughout the evening. His most famous long poem is Tam O’ Shanter about a man fleeing a coven of witches. To A Mouse with the renowned line of ‘wee, sleeket, cowrin, tim’rous beastie’ is also popular. However, given our jewellery’s connection to love and romance, A Red, Red Rose is the Hamilton & Inches favourite.
Finally guests join hands to sing Auld Lang Syne before departing into the night.
The best whiskies for a Burns Night supper
There are some stunning Scotch whiskies from which to choose. However, having created one-of-a-kind decanters for their special 50 year old single malts, our recommendations would be:
If you prefer something lighter, our Scottish Gold Cocktail will add a dash of sparkle to the supper.
We wish you a magical evening!
“Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!”
- Robert Burns