have been part of Scottish culture for about 200 years as a means of
commemorating our best loved bard. And when Burns immortalized haggis
in verse he created a central link that is maintained to this day.
The ritual was started by close friends of Burns a few years after his
death in 1796 as a tribute to his memory. The basic format for the
evening has remained unchanged since that time and begins when the
chairman invites the company to receive the haggis.
THE FORMAT FOR A BURNS SUPPER
Chairperson's opening address
A few welcoming words start the evening and the meal commences with
The Selkirk Grace
Some hae meat but cannae eat,
Some wid eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit
The company are asked to stand to receive the haggis. A piper then
leads the chef, carrying the haggis to the top table, while the guests
accompany them with a slow handclap. The chairman or invited guest
then recites Burns' famous poem
To A Haggis,
with great enthusiasm. When he reaches the line 'an cut you up wi'
ready slight', he cuts open the haggis with a sharp knife.
It's customary for the company to applaud the speaker then stand and
toast the haggis with a glass of whisky.
The company will
then dine. A typical Bill o' Fare would be:
Haggis warm reeking, rich wi' Champit
Tyspy Laird (sherry trifle)
A Tassie o' coffee
One of the central features of the evening. An invited guest is asked
to give a short speech on Burns. There are many different types of
Immortal Memory speeches, from light-hearted to literary, but the aim
is the same - to outline the greatness and relevance of the poet
Toast To The Lasses
speech is followed by a more light-hearted address to the women in the
audience. Originally this was a thank you to the ladies for preparing
the food and a time to toast the 'lasses' in Burns' life. The tone
should be witty, but never offensive, and should always end on a
The turn of the lasses to detail men's foibles. Again, should be
humorous but not insulting.
Poem and Songs
Once the speeches are complete the evening continues with songs and
poems. These should be a good variety to fully show the different
moods of Burns muse.
The evening will culminate with the company standing, linking hands
Auld Lang Syne
to conclude the program.
words and music)
The above information "gleaned" from:
The complete guide to the immortal memory of Scotland's most famous
Pauline Designed It!