Robbie Burns Day is here. What's that, you say? You may not have heard of the famous Scottish poet, but you certainly would have heard of his poem Auld Lang Syne which has been set to the tune of a traditional folk song and played around the world to ring in the new year. The well-loved Scottish words, which translate to 'old long since' are but one of the things Burns is known for, and part of why the man is celebrated with food, drink and song every January all over the world.
Traditional Highland dress is the norm for formal Burns suppers, which are held here and there around Alberta (though not this year because of COVID-19). The piping in of the Haggis (a peppery, oat-y, savoury sausage-like mass of hearty fare, stuffed in casing) and sharing a 'wee dram' of Scotch whisky are part of the festivities and well-worth taking in when life allows, but in the mean-time, virtual celebrations will have to suffice.
“Scotland’s national bard has made an indelible mark on Scottish culture and identity, and the English language on the whole. If you have ever quoted ‘my love is like a red, red rose,’ or referenced the ‘best laid schemes of mice and men,’ then you’re more familiar with his words than you might think," said Leela Sharon Aheer, Alberta's Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women.
“This year, we will not be able to come together for a communal feast; but for all those celebrating at home tonight, we join you in raising a glass tae the bard.”
One Edmonton celebration of Scottish culture and heritage is a go at Aligra Wine & Spirits (inside West Edmonton Mall). The specialty liquor store hosts a Scotch whisky tasting via Zoom this Wednesday evening, with the Arran Robert Burns Single Malt Whisky the star of the event.
"Since 2008, we've been hosting in-store Robbie Burns events," said Aligra co-owner Alison Phillips. "This year, with our Whisky Ambassador Jennifer Owen at the helm, we are introducing our Robbie Burns Scotch Tasting via Zoom."
Participants for this event ($55 per person) should pick up their tasting kits: 4 different whisky tasting samples and a few other goodies, by, Jan. 27 from Aligra Wine & Spirits. The group gathers Wednesday evening via Zoom to learn about the whisky origins and discuss them together.
See aligrawineandspirits.com for more on this event.
Traditionally, haggis is a savoury Scottish pudding containing sheep's heart, liver and lungs. It is minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while encased in the animal's stomach--though now often in an artificial casing instead.