21 January 2021
Discover facts you (probably) didn't know about Burns Night, celebrated around the world on 25 January in memory of poet Robert Burns.
The first Burns Supper was held at Burns Cottage, Ayrshire (Burns's first home) on 21 July 1801 by friends of Robert Burns, on the anniversary of his death. Since then, Burns Suppers have spread to all corners of the globe and are an eagerly anticipated event on the calendar of Scots all over the world.
Here, to celebrate the launch of a new, interactive Burns Supper global map, The Centre for Robert Burns Studies presents ten Burns Supper facts, drawn from the map:
- The southernmost Burns Supper was held on 25 January 2013 at Port Lockroy, Antarctica. Scientist Flo Barrow brought a 40-year old tin of Haggis to share with four colleagues.
- The northernmost Burns Supper on record took place in January 2019, far above the Arctic Circle, at the University of Svalbard, Norway, where Erasmus students celebrated the bard by tasting whisky and holding a ceilidh.
- The world’s highest Burns Supper was toasted on top of the Kilimanjaro, in January 2011, by a team of climbers, including the late Andrew Fairlie a chef from Gleneagles Hotel.
QUICK LINK: How to celebrate Burns Night at home
- The largest Burns Supper on record was held on 24 January 2020 by Scotmid Co-op, in Edinburgh. The event brought together 926 guests.
- Since 1999, the ‘Gung Haggis Fat Choy’ takes place in Vancouver, Canada. This multicultural event, blending Burns Night and Chinese New Year, features Scottish and Chinese poetry as well as a very rare delicacy - Haggis & Shrimp Wonton Dumplings.
- Burns Night is also celebrated in Russia. In 2020, the supper of St Petersburg Burns Club featured Russian and Scottish choirs as well as many speeches, including a ‘Toast to Mark the Lifting of the Siege of Leningrad and the end of World War Two’.
- The United States of America has more than 150 Burns Clubs and Scottish Societies. Their Burns Suppers, mixing Scottish and US cultures, often feature toasts ‘To the Queen’ and ‘To the President’.
- Last year, on Burns Night, Sydney Opera House brought together Scottish and Aboriginal Australian cultures. This event featured bagpipes and aboriginal Yidaki, traditional dancing, as well as kangaroo and haggis dishes.
- Germany is Burns Night’s greatest European fan, with more than 60 suppers recorded on the map. These include the ‘Souter Johnny Burns Night’, near Hanover, celebrated with a German rendition of ‘Tam o’ Shanter’.
- Multicultural Burns Suppers are also very common in Scotland. In 2020, Burns Night was marked by a Nepalese Burns Supper in Aberdeen, African-Caribbean and Reggae Burns Suppers in Glasgow as well as a Mushaira (a traditional Urdu poetic symposium) in Edinburgh.