Seamus Carmichael recites the Ode to a Haggis at the Burns Night celebration. (Click image for Video)
The Lebanon Art Center has hosted a Burns Night since 2014 and this year we continue to update the tradition. We are planning to focus on piping featuring pipers from the Irish and Scottish styles. There will be the usual mix of songs, stories and poems. Leading the toasts, drunk in your choice of whiskies will be our Master of Ceremonies, Donald Henderson. The event on February 1st will take place at the Arts Council building at 770 Cumberland Street. There is lots of free parking on Cumberland Street and nearby. The Dinner starts at 6:00 PM and the event should end by 10:00 PM. If you are interested in a ticket contact Sharon Zook at 717.821.1503, but act soon since seats are limited.
Robert Burns (1759-1796) was a Scottish poet who despite his humble beginnings was widely seen as one of the great writers of his age. Since he often wrote in Scots dialect there are some who are too intimidated to venture into his work. This is a loss to all concerned because Burns is a poet of the heart, expressing profound and tender sentiments about our place in the natural world and especially in our relations with each other. His grasp of the life of the common man and his love of his native land makes him the national bard of Scotland.
When he passed away at the tender age of 37 his friends so missed him that they held a party on his birthday January 25th where they read his work and toasted his immortal memory, in whiskey of course. The tradition spread and within a generation or two it had become as important to Scots all over the world as St. Patrick’s Day is to Irishmen
At its most basic the celebration consists of a humble peasant meal, Chicken and Leek Soup (Cockaleekie) followed by Haggis served with Mashed Potatoes (Tatties) and Mashed Turnips (Neeps). The Haggis was chosen as the centerpiece because Burns had once spontaneously composed an ode to the dish, styling it “Great Chieftain of the Pudding (Sausage) Race”. Since a chieftain needs to be announced in style, a piper leads it from the kitchen to the dining hall playing some suitably solemn march.
The evening is broken up with a series of readings, tunes and songs each punctuated by the drinking of toasts to the Haggis, to the memory of the Poet, to the Laddies, to the Lassies and finally to all our old friends, in his famous song “Auld Lang Syne”.