Scottish Traditions for Burns Night

Posted by Claire on 19th Jan 2024

Scottish Traditions for Burns Night

As Burns Night is fast approaching, we decided to explore some of the many weird and wonderful traditions and customs of fabulous Scotland. From fictional creatures to unusual attire, the Scottish are famed for some very unconventional ideas and rituals. There really are too many to list, but here are some of our favourites!

Highland games

Taking place each year from around May to September, the Highland games are a huge part of Scottish tradition and it is thought that the Heavy Events that are part of the modern Games began as a test of strength for military men. Despite the name, the Games aren’t just held on the Highlands, but around all of Scotland. Some of the most popular contests include the Caber Toss, Hammer Throw and Tug of War, but there are also competitions in music skills, cycling, dance and hill racing.

Lochness Monster

The Loch Ness Monster, affectionally known as Nessie, is a mythological creature that is said to reside in the in Loch Ness in Inverness in the Highlands. Nessie apparently has a long snake like body and head with humps that appear above the surface of the water. Each year there are a handful of ‘sightings’ of the Loch Ness Monster and there are several boat cruises for tourists to enjoy the scenery and try to catch a glimpse of the shy Nessie.

Haggis Hurling

Another fictional Scottish creature is the haggis. Said to live high on the hills, these creatures have two legs shorter than the other to allow them to tackle the steep Scottish terrain and a quick browse of the internet will reveal all the secrets of capturing your very own haggis….which is only legal if the creature is more than six inches long…! From this fun bit of folklore, the game of Haggis Hurling has developed. The idea being that the person who throws a traditionally made haggis the furthest and with most accuracy becomes the winner. Furthermore the haggis skin must remain unharmed and still be fit for consumption.

Burns Night

Burns Night occurs on the 25th January each year to celebrate the life and works of Robert Burns, a Scottish poet and author. The evening will usually consist of a hearty meal, most often including the aforementioned haggis, plenty of Whisky and the reciting of some of Burns poems and songs. The 25th January is Burns birthdate and to round the evening off, family, friends and guests will join hands to song one of his most famous songs, Auld Lang Syne, which is also sang at Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s Eve.

Military Tattoo

Taking place each year in the stunning grounds of Edinburgh Castle, the Military Tattoo dates back to the 1950’s and is aimed to showcase the talents of the British Forces and beyond. It is a huge spectacle that attracts over 200,000 visitors and is shown on television with audiences in the high millions. Much if the entertainment involves traditional Scottish music, with bagpipes and drums being played, but there is also Highland dancing, stunts, singing and even a Military aircraft flypast. Suitable for the whole family, this is a truly fantastic spectacle this is popular with young and old alike.