Burns Night. What do you know about Scotland’s national Bard?

Portrait of Robbie Burns

Burns Night

As an Irish woman living in Scotland I love Burns Night. I can get really fired up in the knowledge that everyone living in this northern country can get excited about our wonderful Bard. I love it that he crosses the divide. Doesn’t matter what class, how educated you are or what part of Scotland you come from. He’s your ( and even my) National poet. 

For my non English speakers “Bard” is an old word for poet, story teller  or writer. When I was a Teacher in the local High school the older pupils used to organise a wonderful musical, literary and culinary evening. Pupils sang, recited poetry, prepared delicious food, danced and performed the typical Burns repertoire. Now that I am retired I can still enjoy the event with friends and family. This weekend I will celebrate with some old Scottish friends. I’m sure we’ll eat the typical and world renowned food “ The Haggis” So. Let me introduce Robbie Burns.

Well first of all. Who was This Robert Burns aka Rabbie Burns? I always introduce him very early in the course, to my students. After all. He’s possibly the most renowned Scottish person who ever lived! Despite his celebrity, no one outside of the English speaking world has ever heard of him. But. I know that everyone knows him. Here’s how the conversation with my students typically goes:

Lucy: Have you ever heard of Robbie Burns, Scotland’s national poet?

Student: Eh……. No?

Lucy: I think you will know him

Student: I don’t think so!

Lucy: ok. So.on New Years Eve, the 31st December, at 12:00 midnight, what do you sing?

Student: nothing special

Lucy: Really? Well, in the English speaking world, England, Scotland, United States, Canada, Australia  we sing a song you will definitely know!

Student: I don’t know any song.

Lucy: Yes you do…………….“ Auld Lang sang” Do you know it.

Student: No. I don’t think so!

Lucy: ok. Listen to this (Lucy gives a little rendition)

Student: of course. Yes. I know it

Lucy: of course you do.. EVERYONE KNOWS AULD LAND SYNE. It’s a Robbie Burns poem. Put to music.

It really is a beautiful song. It’s a celebration of friendship, family and everything we think is important. 

If you want to listen to it and learn the words have a listen to a local lad singing the beautiful song :Auld Lang Syne


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