The 25th of January is a special day in Scotland as it is the birthday of the country’s most famous poet Robert Burns. The Scots traditionally celebrate the Burns Supper to honour his life. And I was very privileged to have been invited to a proper Burns Night, which was an experience as Scottish as it can get. 

Answering my question about the dress code, I was told “smart casual”. Mhm. Whatever that means. It turned out that all men arrived at the venue wearing their kilts. So that was the first taste of what this evening would be like. Me and my friend were seated on a table with four older Scottish couples, who were all really interested in our studies and what we think about their country. The conversations were soon interrupted by the first course: a chicken leek soup, which is called cock-a-leekie. After the soup, the Haggis was “piped in”. This means that everybody stands up, and the chef brings in the haggis on a silver plate, followed by a piper who plays the back pipe. The haggis is then “addressed”, by reciting the poem “Address to the Haggis”. This in itself was very impressive because the man doing it was a great actor and recited the poem with lots of passion and emotions. But as it was in Gaelic, I didn’t understand much of it. 

Now, the main course was served: haggis with tatties (mashed potatoes) and neeps (mashed swede). Surprisingly, the haggis was very good - much better than I remembered from the first time I ate it. Considering the fact that haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), prepared in a sheep stomach, it was really tasty! 

After the main course, more poems were recited and finally the meal was finished off with a cheese platter, coffee and black tea (of course!). But the evening was just about to start: after dinner, a traditional Scottish band started to play folk music and people went to the dance floor for the cèilidh (pronounced kay-lee). These folk dances are similar to American square dancing and really lots of fun! You get to swap your partner quite often and the dances are very intense. After one round you sweat like from a long mountain bike uphill and a break is needed. 

Two hours of dancing and everybody was ready to go home, fall into bed and sleep in on the next day. Until now I have thought that the cultural differences between Scotland and Germany are not very large, but this evening has changed my mind! I love it though!