Burns Night Tradition Continues With Pipers And Pints At The Scottish Arms
It can’t really be a Scottish pub without celebrating the life of Scotland’s famous poet and lyricist, Robert Burns (1759-1796). Burns’ creative output is part of their very being, an essential nutrient flowing through their veins.
Scotland’s favorite son, dubbed the “Ploughman’s Poet,” is remembered each year with Burns Night (held on his birthday, Jan. 25), which includes suppers, poetry, music, and of course, whiskey. These gatherings emit a serious party vibe, salute this great Romantic-era poet and also serve as for klaxon for Scottish nationalism.
Burns Night commemorations are not limited to Scotland, as expats around the world flock to local pubs to dine, drink and toast to their symbol of national solidarity. Locally, The Scottish Arms (8 South Sarah Street) serves as the nexus for St. Louisans looking to salute the poet or Scots pining for home. Hosting Burns Night for its 13th year, the local pub is owned by Aberdeen native Ally Nisbet, boasting our city’s most-renowned Burns bash. It draws some of its biggest crowds of the year for a night filled with passion, pride and poetry.
Born in Ayrshire before moving on to acclaim in Edinburgh, Burns is known for writing prose that is blunt and impulsive, yet sensitive and emotional. He often used Scottish tradition, classical literature and the Bible as sources for his poems and songs, which have become firmly entwined with Scottish cultural identity. In addition to poems like “The Jolly Beggars,” “On Tam the Chapman” and “Hey, the Dusty Miller,” his legend still lives on in the lively folk songs he left behind, including New Year’s Eve classic “Auld Lang Syne” and “Scots Wha Hae,” which serves as a cherished, unofficial Scottish national anthem.
(photo courtesy of The Scottish Arms)
For literary lovers, poets, travelers and hopeless romantics, there is much more to the night than words and whiskey. Burns Night 2017 will feature pipers, readings of Burns verse and live music from Thatched, a St. Louis-based traditional Irish band that performs regularly at the pub.
Festivities begin at 7pm, with Nisbet delivering the traditional address to the haggis, a native Scottish food staple. After opening remarks the haggis is paraded through the restaurant by one of America’s top bagpipe players, Matt Pantaleoni. Afterwards Nisbet mingles with patrons, toasting the people’s bard well into the early morning.
Sponsored by Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Whisky, this special night of pints and prose features plenty of drinks to toast Scotland’s hero, including special drams from Laphroaig, Bowmore and Auchentoshan as well as some lovely cocktails, created by the Scottish Arms’ bartenders.