Maine Celtic Celebration’s annual fundraising event promises food, whisky, lively poetry and Highland piping

Even if you’re not Celtic, you’ll still enjoy a raucous Burns Night Jan. 28

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 5:00pm

    Haggis. Whisky with a “y.” Robert Burns.

    You’ll find out what all of this means January 28, even if you have no Celtic blood in your profile. The Maine Celtic Celebration’s annual Burns Night, to celebrate Scotland’s most famous poet and working-class joe, will be held at the Waldo County Shrine Club at 20 Northport Avenue in Belfast, starting at 5 p.m.

    Robert Burns, Scotland’s most celebrated storyteller, inspires Burns Nights across the globe when people tend to gather, typically around his birthday, in the spirit of laughter and celebration, poetry, and food. The tradition was started by his friends a few years after his death and has turned into a night of fun rituals.

    Tickets are $50 for a good cause.

    “This is a major fundraiser to support the Maine Celtic Celebration held each July in Belfast,” said media contact Melissa Samuels.

    Robert Burns

    (born January 25, 1759)

    Robert Burns, was a Scottish poet and lyricist who is considered the national poet of Scotland and is probably most famous for penning the New Year’s eve song, “ "Auld Lang Syne.” With little schooling and a lifetime of performing manual labor, Burns educated himself and continued to write poems and songs in his lifetime.

    Attendees will be invited to enjoy a whisky tasting, followed by hearty finger foods and an evening of poetry, speeches, and musical performances.

    The Stray Aways, a quartet of fiddle/guitar, piano accordion, and whistle-playing Irish musicians are scheduled to perform that evening.

    “Front Street Pub is working with us with the whisky tasting along with an open cash bar,” said Samuels.

    A common ritual of a Burns supper is “the presentation of the haggis.”

    Haggis, Scotland’s notorious dish, is sheep’s organs with minced onion and other spices. The haggis comes from a butcher in Bangor and is the most authentic haggis to be found in the U.S.

    Burns wrote a poem, “Address To A Haggis,” which according to custom, is carried in on a silver salver — or tray—while people stand around it and slow clap. A designated reciter of his poem follows, after which the haggis is served to the crowd.

    “We’ll have two MCs with a special sword, and a special sword for cutting the haggis,” said Samuels. “They’ll make this grand declaration, talking about this haggis, then after cutting it, will pass it around to participants. We’re not having a formal dinner, but we will have traditional hearty food that you can dine on buffet style.

    Besides haggis, other offerings on the menu include Neeps and Tatties cake, Guinness pulled-pork sandwiches, vegetable crudities, salmon bites, cheese and crackers, and desserts.

    Guests may participate in a Toast to the Lads and Lassies and anyone who has ever read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, will need to pay close attention to this toast.  According to the UK’s The Telegraph, “Any man making the toast should tread with care since it is followed by a reply from the women.” There will also be reciting of Burns’s poetry.

    “Hosting guests is a very important part of Celtic culture to make people feel welcome so they can tell stories and relax in each other’s company,” said Samuels.

    While the event encourages people who have kilts and tartan to wear them, it doesn’t matter if you don’t.

    “If you don’t have a kilt, great, you can judge other people’s kilts,” she said. “The idea is to have some joy around the event. It’s the middle of the winter. Instead of staying home and feeling melancholy, go out and have fun with people.”

    This is an all-volunteer event and all proceeds go to pay performers, stages, rental equipment, and other elements of this event or the summer Celebration. Tickets can be purchased online: Burns Night, locally at Left Bank Books, or at the door, if not sold out.

    Kay Stephens can be reached at