Burns Night what is it?

Burns Night what is it :  Rabbie Burns


Robert Burns:
Who was he?

Short biography:
Early life
Farm Life
Later life

Background to the man:
His poetry
His women
His politics
His Freemasonry

His celebration:
Burns Night
Celebration running order
Auld lang syne

Burns home page

What is Burns Night?

So why have a Burns Night? After all, we don’t have a Byron Night or a Coleridge Night.

Robert Burns was recognised in his lifetime as a literary genius and he died (relatively) young. In fact, he really only published a single volume of work, though he wrote more.

He was a poet who, though well educated, came from impoverished roots and was never ‘rich’. He had strong, radical political beliefs which made him and his work a rallying point for those with the same beliefs and his early death, though quite mundane, made him something of a martyr. (In contrast, Byron and Coleridge may also have been literary geniuses but to the world they were simply poet rockstars: mad, bad and dangerous to know.)


So Burns was a unique combination of wit, intellect, humble beginnings and stood for something that others could support, who died young when he could have stood astride the world if he had lived a little longer.

When Burns died Scotland was having a hard time in its relationship with England and it might be said that Scotland was looking for something that it could call its own. And it chose Robert Burns who wrote his magical poetry in a language only a true Scot could truly understand.

The first Burns Night was on the anniversary of his death, but was later changed to be the anniversary of his birth, an altogether more cheerful event.