It’s that time of the year again when Valentine cards replace Christmas cards in the shops. But before that, there is Burns Night. The annual event to celebrate the life, works and spirit of the great Robert Burns (1759-1796) will be celebrated by Scots and non-Scots alike, the length and breadth of the country. The actual birthday is January 25th, where Burns Suppers will take place in varying forms, but all featuring Scottish food Scottish whisky and Scottish spirit. The man himself, Robert Burns was born in Alloway, Scotland, on January 25, 1759 and died in Dumfries, Scotland, on July 21, 1796. Without doubt, his best-known work is “Auld Lang Syne” although he wrote many other writings that to fans, are equally important. The first Burns’ supper was believed to be held on July 21, the anniversary of his death, in Ayrshire, Scotland, in the late 1700s but then changed to January to celebrate his birthday, rather than his death day. There’s really nothing to a Burns Night. All you need according to the Robert Burns Organisation is “a place to gather (gracious host), plenty of haggis and neeps to go around (a splendid chef), a master of ceremonies (foolhardy chairman), friendly celebrants (you and your drouthy cronies), and good Scotch drink to keep you warm (BYOB).” Obviously its far more important than that. Traditionally, the evening centres on the entrance of the haggis on a large platter to the sound of a piper playing bagpipes. When the haggis is on the table, the host reads the “Address to a Haggis” which is an ode that Robert Burns wrote to the Scottish dish. At the end of the reading, the haggis is ceremonially sliced into two pieces and the meal begins. Although the haggis is the most popular and traditional part of the menu, there are many other types of food are associated with Burns’ Night. So if you are hosting a Burns Supper, make sure that you can provide cock-a-leekie soup (chicken and leek soup); haggis; neeps (mashed turnips or swedes) and tatties (mashed potatoes); cranachan (whipped cream mixed with raspberries and served with sweet oat wafers); and bannocks (a kind of bread cooked on a griddle). Now if you are hosting at Burns evening or supper, make sure that your oven is up to the job and get it serviced beforehand. Burns Night is an exceptionally important date in the Scots calendar, so make sure that the evening goes to plan. And don’t forget the Selkirk Grace (also known as Burns’s Grace at Kirkcudbright). Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it, But we hae meat and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit.