Current Events, Special Days and Historic Anniversaries Brought to Life by Teddy Bears, Pandas and Other Cuddly Creatures

BURNS NIGHT

by Elspeth

On 25th January, people across the world pay tribute to Robert Burns, Scotland’s most famous poet.  The custom dates back to 1801, when a small group of friends met in Burns Cottage to share a meal and raise a glass to the poet’s memory.  This simple celebration was the forerunner of the Burns Supper, now held not only in the bard’s native Scotland, but in almost every corner of the world, when thousands, especially Scotland’s expatriate communities, gather together to honour this remarkable man, consuming traditional haggis, neeps and tatties and large quantities of whisky in the process!

Burns, the eldest son of a tenant farmer, was born on 25th January 1759 in a humble cottage in the village of Alloway.  Recognising the importance of a good education, his father worked hard to pay for a tutor for the young Robert and, by the age of 15, he was well-read in a wide range of subjects and had written his first poem.  Some of his best-known works are Tam O’ Shanter, the great narrative poem, the Address to the Haggis, a traditional part of every Burns Supper, and Ae Fond Kiss which, according to Sir Walter Scott, ‘is the essence of a thousand love tales’.  Auld Lang Syne, undoubtedly Burns’ most famous work, is traditionally sung on New Year’s Eve and at the end of all kinds of events – although most people, even many Scots, rarely get the words right and usually cross hands with their neighbours a verse early!

Robert Burns is, of course, also known for his fondness of women and is known to have fathered 12 children!  Nine of these were with his wife Jean Armour, the last born on the day of Burns’ funeral, though, sadly, only three survived infancy.  The great loves of his life were, Mary Campbell, to whom Burns dedicated Highland Mary and To Mary in Heaven (she died at the age of 23 after catching typhus from her brother), and Agnes McLehose, often referred to as Clarinda, the inspiration for Ae Fond Kiss.

Burns died in 1796, aged 37, but his memory lives on through the hundreds of poems, songs and letters penned during his tragically short life.  Several years ago, Clare Potts, a talented bear artist, made the most wonderful Robeart Burns teddy for me and, each year, he takes pride of place in my Burns’ window.  Dressed in authentic brown tweed jacket and velvet breeches, in one paw, the delicate green velvet jointed bear holds a quill pen, having just finished writing My Love is like a Red, Red Rose, one of his namesake’s most beautiful love songs and, in the other, a red rose.  This year, a hand-made Burns’ Cottage, picked up at Ayr car boot sale, adds authenticity to the window in which poems like The Twa Dugs, To a Mouse and, of course, the epic Tam o’ Shanter, with Cutty Sark about to pull off Meg’s tail, are brought to life.

The Bears in the Windows really look forward to 25th January when they hold a Burns Supper here at Dalbear Road, complete with haggis and their very own ‘whisky’ with which to toast the bard!  

 

 

 

    

    


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