As is our tradition, we hosted an event to commemorate the Scottish National Poet, Robert Burns (usually done on January 25, or thereabouts). Some years, it’s just us. Other years, we invite guests and put on more of a production. This year, we went with “An Afternoon of Poetry and Piping in Honor of Robert Burns,” billing it as a kid-friendly event. We invited some friends (some with kids, some without), and had a very informal event.
The girls wore their ball gowns, that is, the red satin dresses I made for them for Christmas (ok, for the twins I finished them very late, so this was their first opportunity to wear them). I was fully kilted up. After the guests arrived and nibbled on oatcakes and cheese for a while, and kids ran around, we started the actual proceedings with piping. After a couple of tunes, we lined up to process around the house with the (vegetarian) haggis. I then read the address to the haggis, but forewent the traditional toasts to the piper and chef (since I also cooked the beastie, it would have been a little awkward to toast myself twice).
A note about vegetarian haggis: traditional haggis is basically sausage made with offal, thickened with oatmeal, then boiled. With that in mind, most vegetarian haggis recipes I’ve found treat it like an oatmeal-thickened casserole or stuffing-like dish. It works, but the line about the knife doesn’t work the same way. This year, I had the idea to cook some of it in a parchment paper bag. Bingo! I was able to knife the haggis in keeping with the poem.
We continued on, with a very informal Immortal Memory, focused on memories and traditions. From there, we opened the floor for the audience participation portion. We had a poem about a potato, a limerick about a sneeze, “Happy Birthday” on the keyboard, and the poem To a Mouse. I put a colleague and his wife on the spot for the toast to the lassies and the reply. It actually went very well, especially for being unscripted. The kids participated to the extent they wanted, but really enjoyed the food (and eating in the living room) and being able to play with their friends.
We finished with a (sort-of) marmalade cake, and singing Auld Lang Syne. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with friends, and share one of our family traditions.