Burns Night: Celebrating Scotland

Wednesday 3rd January 2024 - Cara Bentham


Burns Night: Celebrating Scotland

Explore the traditions, discover a standout Scottish Auction House, Smile Scotland, and revel in a curated selection of Scottish treasures from their upcoming auctions.

As Burns Night approaches, it’s the time of year to celebrate all things Scottish. In this post, we do just that by exploring the traditions of Burns Nights, showcasing a fantastic Scottish Auction House and exploring some wonderful Scottish pieces from our upcoming auctions.

What is Burns Night?

Burns Night is a Scottish celebration held annually on January 25th to honour the life and poetry of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. Typically marked with a traditional supper, the event involves the recitation of Burns' poems, singing his songs, and enjoying Scottish cuisine. The centrepiece of the evening is the "Address to a Haggis," a poem where a haggis, a traditional Scottish dish, is ceremoniously presented and then enjoyed by the attendees. Bagpipes, traditional attire, and toasts to the "immortal memory" of Robert Burns contribute to the lively and festive atmosphere of Burns Night celebrations.

How is Burns Night Celebrated?

Burns Night is an opportunity to celebrate everything Scottish. However, the following traditions are typically followed:

  • Traditional Suppers: People gather for a special meal featuring Scottish delicacies like haggis, neeps, and tatties, symbolising the essence of Burns Night.
  • Recitation of Burns' Poems: Participants read and recite Robert Burns' famous works, celebrating the poet's literary legacy.
  • Address to a Haggis: A dramatic presentation of Burns' poem dedicated to the haggis, a Savory dish, often accompanied by bagpipes and applause.
  • Toast to the Lassies: A light-hearted tradition where a speaker toasts the women present, followed by a witty response or counter-toast from a woman.
  • Traditional Attire: Attendees often dress in kilts, tartans, and other traditional Scottish garments to embrace the cultural spirit of the occasion.
  • Scottish Music and Dance: Celebrations include lively music, with traditional Scottish tunes and ceilidh dancing, adding a festive rhythm to the evening.
  • Whisky Tasting: Scotch whisky, a Scottish staple, is savoured and celebrated during Burns Night, reflecting Scotland's rich distilling heritage.
  • Immortal Memory Toast: A solemn moment where a speaker pays tribute to Robert Burns, reflecting on his impact and enduring influence.
  • Candlelit Atmosphere: Dimmed lights and candlelit settings create an intimate ambience, enhancing the poetic and reflective aspects of the celebration.
  • Community Gatherings: Beyond formal events, communities come together in local halls, pubs, and homes, fostering a sense of shared cultural pride.
  • Singing of "Auld Lang Syne": The evening often concludes with a heartfelt rendition of "Auld Lang Syne," another famous work by Robert Burns, symbolising friendship and shared memories, and is a traditional way to bid farewell to the evening.
  • Bonfires and Fireworks: In some areas, especially in rural communities, Burns Night celebrations may include bonfires and fireworks, adding a touch of spectacle to the festivities and symbolising the communal spirit of the occasion.


Showcasing a Fantastic Scottish Auction House: Smile Scotland

With Burns Night coming up, it’s a great time to showcase a fantastic Scottish Auction House - Smile Scotland.

Smile Scotland is situated in the idyllic setting of Oyne, Aberdeenshire and offers a captivating blend of charm and excitement. As a fully operational auction house serving the general public and trade specialists, it boasts a spacious, modern venue complemented by secure storage facilities, ample parking, and inviting outdoor seating areas. Specialising in curios, local treasures, and everyday items for homes, gardens, 'man-sheds,' or businesses, Smile Scotland travels across the UK to curate a diverse and desirable selection for each auction.

Beyond its auction expertise, Smile Scotland stands out as a registered charity since 2014, dedicated to supporting individuals into employment through work experience, training, and confidence-building in a safe and supportive environment. Smile Scotland is committed to making a positive impact and ensures a memorable auction experience while contributing to a noble cause.

Smile Scotland's next auction takes place on 16th January at 10am. View the catalogue and register to bid live here.

Celebrating All Things Scottish in Our Upcoming Auctions

We have plenty of Scottish treasures in auction catalogues. Whether you have Scottish heritage or simply want to get into the spirit of Burns Night, check out some of our top picks from upcoming sales:

Historical Map/Travel Poster

This delightful travel poster is a historical map of Scotland by decorative map maker Leslie George Bullock(1895-1971). It features illustrations of historical Scottish landmarks, travel routes, historical events, notable figures, battles, Roman sites, famous ships, cathedrals, abbeys, castles, seaports, towns and cities. Framing the map are several coats of arms for the clan chiefs and Scottish families. It goes up for sale on January 27th at Antikbar Original Vintage Posters. It has an estimate of £90 - £180.

Novelty Walking Stick

This lot is perfect for honouring Burns Night – an early 20th-century novelty walking stick or cane with the pommel carved as the head of Tam O' Shanter from the well-known Burns poem. It goes up for sale on January 23rd at Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers with an estimate of £60 - £80.

Tytler’s History of Scotland

Old books have a certain charm about them, like this Tytler’s History of Scotland, New and Greatly Enlarged Edition. This nine-volume edition (1873 – 1877) includes an Essay on Scottish Ecclesiastical History by Revd. Professor Eadie. It goes up for sale at Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers on January 23rd and has no estimate.

Silver Table Spoons

Elevate your Burns Night Supper with this set of six George III Scottish silver Hanoverian pattern table spoons (1807). They go up for sale on January 23rd at Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers and have an estimate of £70 - £100.

Jack Vittriano Oil on Canvas

Titled ‘Seaside Sharks’, this oil on canvas was painted by Scottish artist Jack Vittriano and is signed and framed. It's in excellent condition with no damage or restoration. It goes up for sale at Swan Fine Art on February 7th and is estimated at £12,000 - £18,000.

For more fantastic lots, check out our upcoming auctions.

Wherever you’re from, we hope you have a fantastic time celebrating all things Scottish this Burns Night (January 25th)!