What exactly is a Haggis?
A Haggis is a very old Scottish dish, which combines meats, spices and oatmeal to create a very rich, unusual, but none the less delicious feast. The factual and historic description of Haggis is sometimes off-putting to people who have not tried it. Fortunately, modern techniques in the preparation and presentation of Haggis make it an acceptable delicacy to almost everyone’s palate. In fact, its simply delicious. If you haven’t tried haggis …..authentic Scottish Haggis…..you must ! Whilst here in Scotland it is not consumed on a daily basis, it does feature regularly on many peoples home menus throughout the year. It makes “guest” appearances on a more formal basis throughout the year, whenever Scottish culture is celebrated.
Why did Robert burns write about the Haggis?
This is an interesting question and I doubt if we will ever know exactly what inspired him to write The Address To A Haggis. What is clear however, is that Burns was presenting the Haggis as being a unique and symbolic part of Scottish identity and culture. Through the power of the spoken word and the imagery of vivid language, Rabbie successfully portrayed a picture in the mind, which has long since become the focal point of the celebration of Burns and Scotland.
When written, only a short time had passed since the Jacobite Rebellion. The French Revolution was alive, and America was in the aftermath of the War of Independence. In Britain, the political struggle between Scotland and England was very much to the fore and Burns wrote passionately on the subject.
So war, political struggle, and the Scottish identity were the catalyst for the poem. The humble Haggis was merely the vehicle used to demonstrate his proud Scottish nationalism, which he does in a light-hearted way. Burns clearly thought that Haggis was a great meal but he also recognised its nutritional value, its popularity and its unusual preparation and presentation. It was uniquely Scottish.
It is therefore easy to see why Rabbie made the link between Scotland’s Identity at that time, and the serving of Haggis to ordinary Scots, as an ordinary Scottish meal. I suppose it was a strange subject to write about but this is the mastery of Burns!
Why is the Haggis served during Scottish cultural celebrations?
Following the death of Burns, a number of Burns Clubs were formed to celebrate and honour his memory..and what better than to serve the great Haggis during this celebration, and to recite his famous Address to a Haggis.
This custom has been carried through the years and has now become firmly established as one of the key recitals at any Burns Supper , celebrated by millions throughout the world.
All manner of Scottish celebrations choose to have Haggis on their menu. It is a truly excellent choice for such occasions and almost everyone who tries it..loves it ! There is nothing better than real, authentic, Scottish haggis, served traditionally with “neeps n tatties” At home with the family, entertaining guests, or at organised events..go for Haggis!
Burns wrote the poem as a celebration of Scotland and all things Scottish. In some ways it is quite strange and rather amusing to think that one of the worlds greatest poets, should write so passionately about a simple meal. Rabbie himself, would no doubt find the celebrity status of the Haggis hilarious, particularly since he is responsible for that fame!
All in all, it is very fitting that the humble Scottish Haggis has continued and prospered in modern society, and has itself now become representative of Scotland.
What does the Address to a Haggis mean?
Address To A Haggis
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race! Aboon them a’ ye tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm: Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace As lang’s my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
Then, horn for horn,
Is there that owre his French ragout
Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
Fair is your honest happy face Great chieftain of the pudding race Above them all you take your place Stomach, tripe or guts Well are you worthy of a grace As long as my arm
The groaning platter there you fill
His knife having seen hard labour wipes
Then spoon for spoon
Is there that over his French Ragout
Poor devil, see him over his trash
But take note of the strong haggis fed Scot
You powers who make mankind your care