Burns Night, an annual Scottish tradition, takes place on the 25th of January each year and has been celebrated by Scots since 1801. But what is Burns Night, who is it made to celebrate and, most importantly, how is it honoured by Scots around the world today?


The over 220 year old tradition was made to celebrate legendary Scottish poet Robert 'Rabbie' Burns and marks his birthday. Burns it to Scotland what Shakespeare is to England: a national bard who still contributes an estimated £200 million per year to the Scottish economy. His works mostly exploring the human condition, his brilliance was only truly appreciated after his death but his work continues to be popular today - look to the famed 'Auld Lang Syne' and 'Tam o' Shanter' poems for examples.



Throughout the night people indulge with traditional Scottish food like haggis, which Burns himself describes as "the great chieftain of the pudding-race". Another part of Scotland's national identity is Scotch, or Scottish whiskey, which tends to take up a large focus of the evening. It is also encouraged to wear some traditional dress for Burns Night: although there is no hard and fast dress code wearing some tartan clothing is standard practice for those involved.


The celebration is often kicked off with a recital of poems Address to a Haggis and Selkirk Grace, followed by a speech to honour burns and a toast in his name. Other common poems that are recited are Address to the Lassies and The Reply From the Lassies, but as Burns wrote and published over 550 poems during his career the options to choose from are essentially endless.


In conclusion, Burns Night is a key part of Scotland's identity and tradition, and celebrates creativity, empathy and understanding for the experiences of others. Unlike Patron Saint celebration, it marks the importance of someone who rose to fame through the arts, rather than from heroic acts or religious importance.