Lisa's week

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Lisa's week: “My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose”

burns night

Haggis, whisky, bagpipes and … poetry? Now you might have correctly guessed that these have all got something to do with Scotland but you might be missing the poetry element. Well, the poetry is to commemorate the birth of Robert Burns, who is probably the most famous of all Scottish bards (poets), on 25th January 1759. Nine of his close friends came together to celebrate his life 5 years after his death in July 1601 and enjoyed themselves so much that they decided to do it again the following year on his birthday – 25th January. Burns Night was born.

It’s not an official Bank Holiday in Scotland but is celebrated with much enthusiasm all the same. The night can be a cosy party at home or a more formal event but every Burns Night celebration tends to have the following elements.

Piping in the Guests – this might be real bagpipes or recorded Scottish music but guests stand in greeting and applaud when the host of the evening is seated.

Chair’s Greeting – a few formal words of greeting are then made by the host followed by grace. This is very often the Selkirk Grace – named because Burns himself quoted it at a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk: “Some hae meat an canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit.”

The Food – some sort of traditional Scottish soup is usually served for the starter such as a potato soup, cock-a-leekie or Scottish broth. For the main course, haggis is of course the only thing to choose. Another acquired taste although I’ve not tried it myself! The haggis will be served with tatties (potatoes) and neeps (mashed swede). Dessert could be something such as cranachan or tipsy laird – both of which will be flavoured with whisky. While the recipes sound very unusual, they mostly contain standard ingredients from northern Europe and you could easily try your own Scottish dinner. All these recipes can be found online if you’re interested. You could try the BBC Good Food website.

Piping in the Haggis – the piping in of the haggis is a highlight during the meal and everyone will stand to watch the entry of a large haggis on a silver platter accompanied by the sound of bagpipes. The host might decide to recite “Address to a Haggis” just before he slices the large haggis open and toasts to the haggis are made by all present.

The recitals – after the food several of Burns works will be recited to the guests including the “Immortal Memory”, the second entertainment, the “Toast to the Lassies”, “the Reply to the Toast to the Lassies”, and followed by a final reading of a Burns poem to complete the recitals.

Auld Lang Syne – the host will bring the evening to an end by encouraging everyone to sing the classic Scottish song, Auld Lang Syne (we talked about this back in December 2016 here).

I haven’t personally enjoyed a Burns Night myself but I have experimented a little with some delicious Scottish dishes and was once invited to a traditional cèidilh (ˈkʲʰeːli - a traditional Scottish social gathering) that was certainly a whole lot of fun and such an interesting cultural experience! Why not dust off your kilts and give it a go yourself?!

My love is like a red red rose – Robert Burns

O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry , my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

Episode 55: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

Episode 56: Holiday season is coming!

Episode 57; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1

Episode 58; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2

Episode 59: Summer Solstice

Episode 60: Harry Potter turns 20

Episode 61: Quick Tip of the Week - live, life, live

Episode 62: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Episode 63:  I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Episode 64: Stick a stamp on it!

Episode 65: Idiom of the week - Water under the bridge

Episode 66: I say QWERTY, you say QWERTZ

Episode 67: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 1)

Episode 68: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 2)

Episode 69: Joking around in Scotland

Episode 70: The first day of school

Episode 71: Let's go down to the Wiesn!

Episode 72: Celebrating language

Episode 73: It's a Harry thing!

Episode 74: My favourite time of the year

Episode 75: TED-Ideas Worth Spreading

Episode 76: Grinning like a Cheshire cat

Episode 77: Enjoying the downtime

Episode 78: Talking Tenners

Episode 79: Do you need anything from the Hight Street?

Episode 80: Just another few minutes!

Episode 81: Counting the cards on my shelf.

Episode 82: What sign are you?

Episode 83: Great if you have a sweet tooth

Episode 84: It's an acquired taste!

Episode 85: New Year's Resolutions

Episode 86: Quick Tip of the week - go/come & take/bring