Every year in Scotland, on January 25th, we celebrate Burns’ Night. Almost considered a 2nd National Day after St Andrews’ Day in November, this is the night where we Scots celebrate the life and works of Robert Burns, a poet and lyricist, and arguably one of Scotland’s most notable figures. He is much loved here in Scotland, he even beat William Wallace in a TV competition in which the people here voted for the Greatest Scot ever.
Robert Burns, or Rabbie as he is more affectionately known here, was born on the 25th January 1759 in Alloway, just south of Ayr in Ayrshire. The house he was born was built by his father and still stands today, although it now functions as the Burns’ Cottage Museum.
He was a poet and a lyricist, who’s impact can still be seen on Scottish literature and culture to this day, as well as having a lasting influence worldwide in countries like Canada, the USA, and Russia. In fact, the first postage stamp ever made of Robert Burns didn’t come from Scotland or even the United Kingdom, but actually Russia – they put him on a postage stamp in 1956 to commemorate the 160th anniversary of his death. Some of his best known works include “Ae Fond Kiss”, a love song often heard at weddings, and “Tam O Shanter”, a tale of witches set in Ayr, not far from where he was born. Every Hogmanay, people all around the world sing Auld Lang Syne, a song written by Robert Burns himself and one known all over the English-speaking world – showing just how important a figure he remains to this day.
Burns died in 1796, and 5 years after his death, the first Burns’ Supper was held, when a group of his friends and fellow poet threw a dinner part to commemorate his life, on what they believed to be his birthday – January 29th. It wasn’t until records showed that his birthday was actual January 25th that the tradition of Burns Night began to fall on that date.
Whilst he originally hailed from Alloway, throughout his life, he stayed in many places throughout Scotland, meeting many people who influenced his works. From Tarbolton, Kilmarnock, Dumfries, to our capital city, Edinburgh, he often wrote about the places he went, the people he met, and where he would like to visit, planning to leave for Jamaica with one of the women who he was involved with.
If you ever wanted to follow in his footsteps, you could do a Robert Burns tour with us by booking a Private Tour with our expert team – starting in Edinburgh, you could visit his portrait in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, before heading towards the west coast, visiting Alloway and his home, and even the Tam O'Shanter bridge. Click here to learn more about our Private Tours service.