Burns Night 2016: 10 Things you never knew about Robert Burns

Today, the 25th January, is Burns Night, the day when people across Scotland get together to celebrate the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. Whether you're heading to a ceilidh, planning a meal of haggis, neeps and tatties or just wondering what on earth we're talking about, we've got 10 things you never knew about Robert Burns to share with you.

#1. He loved women

Turns out, Burns had more than poetry writing to keep him busy on those cold Scottish nights - his love life was pretty hectic too! In fact, during his lifetime, he fathered 12 children to different mothers - the youngest, Maxwell, was born on the day of Burns' funeral.

#2. So many statues

Did you know that there are more statues of Rabbie on the planet than any other non-religious figure, after Christopher Columbus and Queen Victoria? You'll find statues not only in the UK, but also in New Zealand, America, Canada and Australia.

#3. He was poor

Despite his reputation as the National Poet of Scotland, Burns was a very poor man when he died, with just £1 to his name.

#4. He was big headed

Maybe the reason Robert Burns was such a creative genius had something to do with the size of his skull? According to a plaster cast, he had a much larger head than the average man.

#5. Michael Jackson loved him

We bet you never knew that you'd been listening to a song inspired by Robert Burns' poems. It's rumoured that Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' was inspired by 'Tam o'Shanter', one of Burns' most famous works.

#6. He really loved him

Did you realise that Michael Jackson actually loved Burns so much he create a whole album based on Rabbie's poems, collaborating with David Guest to create a musical about the poet's life?

#7. His face is on Coke bottles

In 2009, Robert Burns appeared on the first ever commemorative Coke bottle - we reckon Robert would have a wee dram of whisky in his coke if he were still around today though!

#8. He died tragically young

Burns died at the tragically young age of 37, which was said to be down to an unhealthy lifestyle and boozing in his youth.

#9. He had celebrity fans

It's said that Abraham Lincoln, the US President, would often recite Burns' work by heart to entertain guests visiting the White House. 

#10. He's a music legend

Robert's poem, 'Auld Lang Syne' has been covered by countless singers and is now the traditional song for Hogmanay. It's even appeared in Guinness World Records as one of the most popular songs ever.

Image credit: huffingtonpost.com

Celebrate the traditional way, with a twist

If you're planning a Burns Night celebration tonight, why not whip up this delicious veggie haggis recipe for a vegetarian-friendly twist that's still delicious? It's packed with fibre, protein and vegetables. Yum!

Vegetarian Haggis Recipe 


  • 150g pearl barley
  • 250 aduki beans (soaked overnight)
  • 200g split yellow peas (soaked overnight)
  • 250g pinhead oats
  • 100g mixed hazelnuts and pecans
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 5 sprigs rosemary
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 heaped tsp ground allspice
  • 1-2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 nutmeg, grated
  • sea salt to taste
  • 750ml vegetable stock (organic if possible)
  • Juice of 2 lemons


Toast the oats and nuts in a 180 degree centigrade oven for 25 minutes, then chop into a fine dice and set to one side. Cook the pearl barley in boiling water until it's just tender but still has some bite - check the packet instructions; this usually takes around an hour on the job. Check the barley frequently to make sure you don't overcook it. Drain and set to one side.

Whilst the barley is cooking, cook the pulses in a saucepan, adding just enough water to cover and no salt (this makes them tough). When cooked, drain and set aside.

Image credit: carllegge.com

Finely chop or dice the vegetables and rosemary by hand or in a food processor. Heat the olive oil in a wide based pan and add the bay leaves, stirring for one minute. Then add all the vegetables (except the mushrooms) and the chopped rosemary and sauté for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Turn the heat to low, cover and sauté for 15 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, stir well and re-cover the pan, cooking for 5 minutes.

Add spices to the vegetables and continue stirring for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the pulses and barley, stirring well. Season if required, and add enough stock to form a slightly sloppy mixture. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the oats and nuts and some more stock, then simmer over a very low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. You may need to add a little more stock from time to time. Check the seasoning and add lemon juice to serve.

Eat with traditional neeps (mashed turnip) and tatties (mashed potato) or serve with kale and a baked sweet potato for a super-healthy Burns supper!

Recipe from www.carllegge.com

READ THIS NEXT: 15 Green and healthy St Patrick's Day recipes

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 25th Jan 2016 at 15:18

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