Talk:Burns supper

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Clean Up[edit]

This page needs a cleanup. Even although it's Burns night, tonight, I am not going to tag it just now. I am doing this becuase of the traffic it will probably see since it is mentioned on the Main Page. After that, I will add it in. It is mainly the "Address to the haggis" section. KILO-LIMA 17:29, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

I quite enjoyed this article in its current form. Thank you. tess 00:25, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
I've reformatted in into a table. – Tivedshambo (talk) 20:30, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

I just fixed some alignment issues with the table. I noticed that all of my edits were to introduce a pair of HTML linebreaks. I suppose that some well-meaning bot came through and tried to clean up unneccessary whitespace. I've put in some "non-breaking space" characters (&nbsp;) between the <br /> tags to hopefully dissuade any bots in the future. If that doesn't work, adding an HTML comment (<!-- comment -->) between the breaks probably also won't work, but might be worth trying. No idea if that's what really happened though. I'm not watching this page, so if you are, that's what's going on! — gogobera (talk) 15:07, 12 January 2017 (UTC)


Isn't this more commonly referred to as Burns Night or Burns Night supper? Simply south 13:10, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

No. -- Derek Ross | Talk 19:33, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
By no, do you mean that it is never called Burns Night? Or that it is also known as Burns Night but is more commonly known as Burns Supper? When I looked up Burns Night, it redirects here. (Please forgive my ignorance. I've never heard of Burns Supper or Burns Night before today.) Perhaps if Burns Supper is the more common name, it should be called such on the January 25 article. tess 00:24, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
By "No", I meant "No. A Burns supper is not more commonly referred to as Burns Night or Burns Night supper"
They are two different kinds of things. Burns Night is the occasion of the anniversary of Robert Burns birth. A Burns Supper is a meal with a particular purpose and format. Some people have a Burns Supper on Burns Night just as others have a Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day. However the supper is just one way of commemorating the occasion. Folk could just as easily commemorate Burns Night with an event such as a dance or a concert of Burns songs if they wished (and sometimes they do). So a Burns supper is an event that you take part in to commemorate Robert Burns -- and most people do it on Burns Night. -- Derek Ross | Talk 00:44, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. And note that many Burns suppers are not actually on Burns night, but sometime in the week before or after. What I find really odd is the phrase "Burns night supper" which seems to be a hybrid of two phrases - but a google search shows that it is used. I think rarely, though. --Doric Loon 10:47, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

Good point. I had forgotten that even though the Burns supper that I am speaking at is on the 27th this year. -- Derek Ross | Talk

Umm isn't it also known as a Rabbie Burns night, I've lived in Dundee my whole life and thats what we generally call it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:54, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Burns Night, Robert Burns Night, Rabbie Burns Night, Rabbie Burns Nicht. Yes, there are plenty of minor variations. I've only lived near Dundee for part of my life but I still know that different Dundonians will use different words at different times. That's just the way of the world. It's not that significant. -- Derek Ross | Talk 16:21, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
"Burns night" overwhelmingly beats "Burns supper" (!) and the page name should be changed to reflect that. Also, why is it not "Burns' Night"? Turkeyphant 16:52, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Because Burns Night is the 25th of January whereas a Burns supper is an activity which people may carry out on any night of the year. I held my Burns supper on the 16th of January this year which is more than a week before Burns Night. I am not alone: many other people will hold their Burns supper on a night which is not Burns Night. If you want to add an article on Burns Night, please feel free to do so. It was a redirect but I have changed it to a stub for you, so have at it before someone turns it back into a redirect! -- Derek Ross | Talk 17:33, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Fair enough but why isn't it "Burns' Supper" then? Turkeyphant 21:53, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
Well for the same reason that it's Christmas dinner instead of Christmas' dinner or Victoria Day instead of Victoria's Day, I suppose. -- Derek Ross | Talk 06:31, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't see how that's relevant. It's called Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, St Stephen's Day, etc. The possessive applies to people - "Christmas' dinner" would be incorrect but "Burns' night" would be correct. Anyone got anything more to say before I change it? Turkeyphant 11:45, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
Well Victoria was a person last time I checked, even though she has been dead for a while now. And if you don't like that example how about Martin Luther King Day or Darwin Day, both of which commemorate people and neither of which uses the possessive. So the possessive doesn't always apply just because people are involved. Some day names are formed by possessives like the examples that you gave; some days are formed by compound nouns like the examples that I gave. I think that Burns falls into the compound noun class. It certainly does for the formation of Burns supper (as opposed to Burns' supper which has been sitting uneaten since 1796) and it is simpler to assume that it does for Burns Night as well. It is certainly far more likely that people will do internet searches for Burns supper than for Burns' supper so on those grounds too, it's better to go for Burns supper. -- Derek Ross | Talk 15:53, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
The best reliable sources spell it that way. I could find The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language from Cambridge University Press[1] and Scott's Thesaurus from Edinburgh University Press and Scottish National Dictionary Association [2], which also calls it "Burns night", and Language and Scottish Literature also from Edinburgh University Press [3], and Robert Burns and Cultural Authority from University of Iowa Press [4], and Shakespeare and Scotland from Manchester University Press [5] (wow, I got five university press books on a row o_O ), and a book called "Robert Burns" written by Cambridge fellow Anthony Low [6], and the spanish version of the Oxford English Dictionary [7]. --Enric Naval (talk) 18:27, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
That seems pretty conclusive. -- Derek Ross | Talk 06:33, 28 January 2009 (UTC)


In 'To A Haggis' the translation of 'hurdies' is given as 'hips'. Perhaps it is taken from a rather prudish source (no source is given) but the translation of 'hurdies' is really 'buttocks'. Yes, a traditional haggis (especially a large one) is often shaped vaguely like a bottom. I suppose it is due to the shape of the stomach bag. Perhaps in the proposed tidy-up, this could be changed. I assume that, as no source for the poem text or translations are given, there is no problem with changing just one of them.Ewan carmichael 02:51, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Umm, I thought hips were buttocks. What do you see as the difference ? -- Derek Ross | Talk 06:41, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Well, perhaps I am being too polite by using buttocks rather than what hurdies really means - arse! I think of buttocks as your bottom, and hips to be more the sides of the upper leg, below the waist, perhaps blending into the buttocks. The allusion is, after all, to rounded bum cheeks, which the word 'hips' doesn't really get across. 'Buttocks' seems to me to be a polite word that refers particularly to the parts in question. It is also the translation offered by the Dictionary of the Older Scots Tongue.Ewan carmichael 14:18, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Well, fine. Two hips make one arse and twa hurdies mak an airse-- no surprises there. I think you are making fine distinctions where they don't really exist. But perhaps your hip-pockets are in a different position from mine. -- Derek Ross | Talk 01:08, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

I am obviously not managing to get across what I mean - sorry about that. If you take a look at the wikipedia definitions of 'hip' and 'buttock' then I think it is clear. They are not the same thing, although there is a degree of overlap. My real point is that Burns is referring to rounded fleshy bum cheeks so the translations should be a word that gets that across, and hips means so much more and using it dilutes the image. If buttocks does not get the concept of rounded bum cheeks across either (although judging by the photos on the 'buttocks' article I think it does), then I suppose we need another word.Ewan carmichael 08:20, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Thighs are no more buttocks than hips are. My friend who lives in Scotland says arse would be the correct word, and I'd use it if I could find a reference. Here is a ref for buttocks: Gandydancer (talk) 14:35, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Further translation issues[edit]

I have had another look at 'To A Haggis' and there are a couple of other issues I have with the offered translation. Olio is not olive oil in this context, it is a Spanish/Portugese stew, or a dish containing a mixture of different ingredients, and the word comes from latin 'olla' a jar or pot. (Info from Chambers 21st Century Dictionary). This makes sense as 'ragout' and 'fricasse' from nearby lines are also types of stew. Actually, olio isn't a Scots word so there should really be no need to provide a translation of it at all.

Also 'nit' here more likely means 'nut' - both the small insect 'nit' and the edible nut are listed in the Scottish National Dictionary. However, I would think that the concept of a fist as a small dense lumpy shape, akin to a walnut, was a far more likely image for the poet to aim for than a small insect known to live in people's hair!Ewan carmichael 03:25, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

The definition I added for olio comes from [this site]. This has nut as a translation of nit, but translates hurdies as sides. – Tivedshambo (talk) 14:53, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
It is certainly the case that the available translations for words in Burns poems seem to vary widely, and you can find numerous sources that list olio as olive oil and nit as the insect nit. However, from context I would think that Spanish/Portugese stew is clearly correct for nut, and nut is probably accurate for nit, although if someone can explain why nit as the insect is more poetic that nit as nut then I would be happy to concede on that one. You would like to think that VisitScotland would know what they are talking about, but perhaps that is expecting too much!Ewan carmichael 08:20, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
A minor point here: nits are not insects; they are insect eggs and hence very small and round. As to whether Burns meant nut or egg, that's difficult to tell. However one thing that's not difficult to tell is that he meant to imply that the foreign fist was tiny. And for that purpose either translation is fine. -- Derek Ross | Talk 16:02, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Oh yes, so they are! I should have remembered that - I just have mental images of small insects leaping put of people's hair when the word 'nits' is mentioned! To much Beano reading as a child perhaps! As for choice of word, I would have thought that a poet might consider it quite important that the full extent of the intended image came across. From that perspective, finding the CORRECT translation of what Burns meant is surely important. So, I have tried to do this, or at least to find out what people who know more than me consider to be the right answer! The best evidence that I have found is that the World Burns Federation offer the translation 'nut' [here] (incidentally they say 'buttocks' and leave 'olio' alone, I haven't checked the whole poem). Personally, I am happiest with this translation because I feel there is something more in the image of a fist of a small enfeebled person (not necessarily a foreigner the way that I read it, merely a non Rustic Scot: Burns wasn't overly fond of Scots who considered themselves somehow above the general population either) as a nut than as a nit.
Actually, I suppose this raises a few wikipedia style questions. Whatever translation I find most poetic is irrelevant I suppose. The question is what is verifiable, and 'nut' is certainly verifiable. As a second, hopefully authoritative source, scotlandonline offers [this page] which has a link to Address to A Haggis as provided by Dr James Mackay, who they claim 'is widely regarded as the world's greatest authority on the life and works of Robert Burns'. He also uses 'buttocks' and 'nut' but leaves olio alone. I am struggling to find any translations of nit as 'louse egg' but then again, as an English word, it hardly needs a translation. Would the solution be to offer something like "variously a 'nut' or 'louses egg' " as the translation?Ewan carmichael 13:09, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject Holidays[edit]

It has been stated that a Burns supper is a holiday because it is a tradition that happens every year. If that were so then other traditions that happen once a year (such as egg rolling or first-footing) would also be holidays. But they are not. They are in fact traditional activities associated with holidays (Easter and New Year). In the same way a Burns supper is a traditional activity associated with Burns birthday (commonly known as Burns Night) and generally held close to that date but not always held on it. Burns Night may be a holiday but a Burns supper is not. It's like confusing Christmas Day with Christmas Dinner. -- Derek Ross | Talk 19:33, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Since Burns Night redirects here and does not have its own article, the tag is appropriate. Nobody is confusing anything with anything. Chris (クリス) (talk) 20:16, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
In your opinion. -- Derek Ross | Talk 17:06, 22 January 2009 (UTC)


There is a set format, but from where did the format originate? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mnealon (talkcontribs) 12:34, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

Tradition. Mostly of Burns clubs and Masonic lodges I would think. -- Derek Ross | Talk 18:24, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
And also I suspect from the number of Scots outside Scotland. It gave them a chance to meet together and celebrate their identity.--MacRusgail (talk) 16:27, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps I should mention that the veneration of national writers is actually quite common in many parts of the world. The Scots are no exception, but it's less common amongst the English and parts of the Commonwealth, except perhaps Shakespeare. The Russians venerate Pushkin, and the Finns the Kalevala etc.--MacRusgail (talk) 16:35, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

Formality etc, alternative Burns suppers[edit]

This article makes no mention of the numerous alternative Burns suppers, left wing Burns suppers (which make more sense than the Loyal toast, since Burns had no time for cuifs an Birkies like the British royal family), or even those in Scottish Gaelic.

Without a doubt, the whole thing has been hijacked by Tories who have little in common with Burns' own political and social ideals.--MacRusgail (talk) 16:27, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

Events in ...[edit]

These aren't just events in Scotland. They occur in many countries. Certainly a big thing in Canada and Australia at the least. So the "Events in Scotland" categorisation, while not untrue, does seem a bit narrow. -- Derek Ross | Talk 23:52, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

Burns Night is popular throughout much of the nine-county Province of Ulster, not just within Northern Ireland. For example, the night is quite popular in parts of County Donegal, especially in Inishowen and East Donegal. In County Donegal, the night is mainly celebrated by Ulster-Scots Protestants.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:35, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

Why isn't there a Burns Night article?[edit]

A Burns supper is a tradition related to Burns Night, whereas Burns Night is a festival. Shouldn't the article be about Burns Night and mention the supper, rather than conflating the two and giving the supper priority?-- (talk) 20:35, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

Well there was such an article but someone turned it into a redirect to the Burns supper article almost immediately after I wrote it. Maybe because it was so short. I don't really know. Feel free to revert to it and expand on it. As for Burns suppers, there is nothing stopping you having a Burns supper on any night of the year. And in fact Burns suppers are quite often held on the weekends closest to Burns Night rather than on the night itself. They have also been held on the date of Burns' death rather than the date of his birth. So I wouldn't say that they are strictly related to Burns Night although that is the commonest date for them. As for Burns Night being a festival or a holiday, I wouldn't go that far. It's Burns's birthday and there are often events to commemorate it, including the aforementioned Burns suppers. but calling it a festival doesn't seem right to me. -- Derek Ross | Talk 00:13, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

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