According to Statistics Canada, more than 18 per cent of Calgarians claim full or partial Scottish descent. Considering this, there should be plenty of Robbie Burns Night parties going on this weekend.
January 25 is Robbie Burns Night, and for those of us without Scottish heritage, the reason for celebration might be a little unclear. If you’ve been invited to a Robbie Burns Night, or if you’re interested in starting an annual tradition, here is a brief guide to who the man was and how to celebrate the event here in Calgary.
Who was Robbie Burns?
“Your love is like a red, red rose.” Sound familiar? Probably.
Robert Burns was Scotland’s favourite poet and lyricist whose work is still celebrated worldwide. A Romantic poet – that is, he was part of the Romantic movement and not a romantic writer, necessarily – Burns also inspired the founders of socialism and liberalism.
Interesting Facts About Robbie Burns
Burns wasn’t your average Romantic poet. He was a hit, an 18th century celebrity, who had and continues to have an incredible worldwide following.
- There are more public statues of Burns around the world than any other writer.
- Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus are the only non-religious figures to have more statues.
- Burns was a Freemason.
- John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” was inspired by a line in one of Burns’ poems.
- He appeared on a commemorative bottle of Coke in 2009.
- Tommy Hilfiger claims direct descent from Burns.
How to Celebrate Robbie Burns Night
Burns’ influence has travelled all the way to Canada and Robbie Burns Night is celebrated from coast to coast. This weekend, look for biographies in the newspapers and organized readings. For a more traditional celebration, we recommend attending one of these events on January 25:
Robbie Burns Day Tribute: Oakridge
Spend an evening celebrating this Scottish poet’s birthday in traditional Scottish fashion: with whisky, ale, music and, of course, shortbread. $35.
(Co-op: Oakridge Tasting Centre, 2570 Southland Dr. S.W., 403-238-0446, coopwinespiritsbeer.com)
Robbie Burns Day Tribute: Beddington
For those in the northeast who aren’t keen on travelling too far, the Beddington Tasting Centre is also celebrating this Scot. Celebrate this Romantic pioneer’s birthday with traditional Scottish food, beverages and music. $35.
(Co-op: Beddington Tasting Centre, 8220 Centre St. N.E., 403-238-0446, coopwinespiritsbeer.com)
A Scotch festival is the perfect way to celebrate the life of Robbie Burns. Sample over 50 Scotches and nibble on haggis, all while listening to great music. $60.
(Crowfoot Wine and Spirits, 7414 Crowfoot Rd. N.W., 403-296-2200, crowfootliquor.com)
Robbie Burns Night at the Legion
Head down to the Legion 285 for the full Robbie Burns Night experience. Haggis will be served, pipes will be played and highland dancers will be performing. Reservations are required. Call for tickets.
(9202 Horton Rd. S.W., 403-255-5772, legion.ca)