25th January is Burns Night. Considered by many to be the world’s greatest poet, Robert Burns’ birthday is commemorated in every country and continent in the world – Antartica to North America; Russia to Peru. Many people will attend a Burns supper, an evening at which there may be recitations of his love songs, such as Ae Fond Kiss; narrations of his epic poems, such as Tam O’ Shanter or Holy Willie’s Prayer; and communal singing of one of the world’s most performed songs, For Auld Lang Syne. The highlight of the evening, however, will be the meal itself, centring around enjoyment of our national animal, The Haggis!
Haggis Scottica is unique to this country, and has developed over centuries to cope with our rugged landscape. As it lives amongst our high mountains, it has evolved to have longer legs on one side, enabling it to run around the sides of mountains very quickly. There are two sub-species, namely Haggis Dextra (which have their longer legs on the right), andHaggis Sinistra (which have their longer legs on the left). For obvious reasons, they travel round mountains in opposite directions. There is no inter-breeding, not because the two are unattracted, but because having their longer legs on opposite sides, they simply fall over!
Whilst Haggis hunting generates significant income to the Scottish economy, there is an easy way to catch these beasts. You simply need a beater and a netter. The beater “beats” the ground, disturbing the haggis and causing it to run away. The netter simply watches which way it is running and waits for it to make its way around the mountain, and back to its inevitable start point, at which point it is simply scooped up. Served up with neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), it makes a meal fit for a King.
Happy Burns Day!