Some unusual facts about the Scottish bard, Robbie Burns

Robbie Burns

It’s the birthday of our National Bard, Robert Burns on 25th January, a major event in the calendar for any good Scot, and also a chance to toast the star attraction - the haggis - and combine it to delicious effect with neeps and tatties, while sipping on a fine, single malt.

Robert Burns, poet, lyricist (and well known ladies’ man) was undoubtedly a highly charismatic individual, and one of the first “celebrities” of his time. We all know what Rabbie’s famous for in a modern-day sense – who hasn’t sung Auld Lang Syne on the stroke of 12 at Hogmanay, or heard love being compared to a “Red, Red Rose”? Here are some lesser known facts about the Bard and his work, which can all be served up as talking points if you’re attending or hosting a Burns Supper - so tuck in, get your friends and family seated round the table, and enjoy.

  • Burns’ first name is frequently referred to in conversation as Rabbie or Robbie – but the man himself never actually signed his name as such. He went by his given name, Robert, as well as Robin, Rab – and the slightly more unusual, Spunkie.
  • Nowadays it would seem strange to sing anything other than Auld Lang Syne at Hogmanay, but the song only actually emerged as a worldwide anthem because of singer Guy Lombardo’s annual live broadcasts from New York’s Roosevelt Hotel on New Year’s Eve. His orchestra would always play Auld Lang Syne on the night, and when the event was widely covered on TV and radio, the song caught on as a permanent tradition.
  • If you head to the American city of Atlanta, you can witness a life-size imitation of Burns’ first home in Alloway, South Ayrshire. You can also see the real thing in its current form as the Burns Cottage Museum.
  • After Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, Burns has more statues commemorating him round the world than any other non-religious figure. Scotland leads in the statues ranking, closely followed by the USA, Canada and Australia.
  • A lot of people are still unaware that Burns died so tragically young, at age 37, in the summer of 1796.

We’re such fans of Robert Burns we have an entire selection of shortbread dedicated to him. The Robert Burns Tin is full of pure butter shortbread stamped with the Lion Rampant and Scottish Thistle, a perfect accompaniment to any Burns night.