This year, January 25 falls on the approaching Friday. Which means, of course, that scores of Robbie Burns celebrations will be held…on Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday! (It remains a mystery to my why so many bars and Scottish heraldry societies and whisky groups refuse to hold Burns Day events on the actual Burns Day, especially when it means holding them on a night when people might actually want to go out and have a good time, like, oh, I don’t know, A FRIDAY!)
In case you’re inclined to celebrate the great Scottish bard with haggis and whisky and general merriment, here are a few tips to follow:
1) You should drink whisky, even if you don’t normally like it. It doesn’t have to be an expensive single malt – Famous Grouse is my go-to blend, and Black Grouse is more assertive still at a similarly reasonable cost, and frankly Té Bheag is a steal at the price – but there should be Scottish whisky in your glass at some point during the night.
2) It is NOT acceptable to try to peak under someone’s kilt “just to see what you’ve got on under there.” Imagine someone doing that to a woman wearing a skirt. Exactly.
3) If you have a Utilikilt, that’s lovely and good for you. But don’t kid yourself into believing that you’re wearing a kilt. It’s a skirt, period. Own it.
5) Haggis is not gross or dangerous or something to be feared. It’s basically just an overgown sausage, and a quite delicious one, at that. If you’re worried about the whole internal organs thing, stop to ponder what was likely in that hotdog you had last week.
6) That put-on Scottish accent? It’s nowhere near as good as you think it is. Just don’t.
7) Whisky can reasonably be consumed at any point during the Burns night activities. Before the Address to a Haggis? Have a dram! After? Sure, why not! During? Absolutely! With dessert? Naturally! Before dinner? Yep! After dinner? Aye! When the waiter…well, I’m sure you get the point.
8) In the absence of Scottish beer, feel free to drink something Scottish-ish from a brewery closer to home, or almost anything big and malty and delicious. I finished an Arcadia Ales Loch Down (from Michigan) while typing this and have no problem endorsing it for Friday.
9) A Rob Roy would be a nice way to start the night.
10) You are not allowed to giggle when the cock-a-leekie soup is served.