The memory of Scotland’s favourite son, Robert “Rabbie” Burns, was honoured with song, dance, joyous libation and — of course — a haggis Friday night.
“Scotland has a holiday celebrating a poet,” said Ian McWilliams during his toast to the Immortal Memory. “It’s the only country I know of that has taken this bold and imaginative step, to realize some of the truly important things in the world.”
Burns, known around the world for his scathing rebuke of the sociopolitical climate of his time, his proud Scottish nationalism, and his poetry, is celebrated worldwide with Burns suppers every Jan. 25.
The Burns supper in Moose Jaw, the Burns Night Celebration, is a tradition that has been going on for more than 100 years, said Don Mitchell, a Moose Jaw city councillor and one of the event’s organizers.
The event was held at Timothy Eaton Gardens, and featured cocktails, live music from local Celtic band Desperate for Haggis, traditional Scottish dancing, and all of the customary Robbie Burns Night toasts — including the Address to a Haggis, delivered this year by Moose Jaw’s Tom Green.
“Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive: Deil tak the hindmaist, on they drive, Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve, Are bent like drums; Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive, ‘Bethankit’ hums,” Green recited the well-known poem with a thick Scottish brogue, offering an appreciative ‘Bethankit’ belch.
“I’ve known Tom Green for quite a few years,” commented Mayor Deb Higgins following his recitation of the Address, “and that is something that I’ve never seen before (from him) — the gusto and the Scottish brogue with which he gave his Address to a Haggis.”
“I was trying to do the Tim Horton’s roll up the rim to win thing,” Green joked, before explaining the significance of the Address to the ceremonies.
“It is a poem by Rabbie Burns, and it was written in the 18th Century,” he said. “The reason we’re celebrating tonight is for this poet, and he — in his time — was like Mick Jagger today. I’m dead serious, he was like a rock star.”