On the 26th of January, the college had its annual Burns Supper, a wonderful evening of Scottish food, drink and dancing in honour of poet Robert Burns. Burns Suppers are held all over the world, and they are particularly common in Oxford. This is something which probably has its roots in the fact that the first Burns Supper held outside of Scotland was in Magdalen College here at the University. Burns himself is celebrated for his beautiful poetry, his fervent and forward-thinking belief in equality and his importance as a figure who symbolises Scottish culture and Identity.
The evening began with a drinks reception in the Chapel, and then guests were processed through the Old Quad following the sounds of Scotland the Brave on the bagpipes. Once everyone had taken their place in hall the piper started up again, this time to process the Haggis into the hall. The Selkirk Grace was then said by Jonas Black (1st Year Law), and Jake Fremantle (1st Year PPE) gave a particularly impressive recital of the Address to a Haggis; the moment when he pulled a knife out of his kilt sock and thrust it into the haggis was a particular highlight and came as a shock to many in the Hall.
The meal was three wonderful courses, and included a main course of haggis, neeps and tatties as tradition dictates.
After the meal Chris Summers (1st Year German) proposed the toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns. This speech gave insight into Burns’ life and works, and was particularly relevant as Chris is from Ayr, the seaside town where Burns was born and lived in until he reached fame and fortune. However, the main point was that we should remember Burns as man who is not just an artistic genius, but an important thinker who prioritised the right of everyone to be equal and to lead their own life.
The following speeches were the Toast to the Lassies and the Reply from the Lassies. Bill Freeman (4th Year Classics) had written his toast entirely in verse and delivered it from memory. Amy Bryan (1st Year Chemistry) gave the reply, both speeches were highly entertaining, and left certain members of the audience slightly red in the face.
Finally, the tables were pushed to the side for the real highlight of the evening – The Ceilidh. Thanks to the useful instructions of the band, we managed to grasp the patterns of the dances and enjoyed a long night with the Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant and Strip the Willow.
Much fun was had by all and the evening was a wonderful showcase of the sense of College Community and of the love Brasenose has for new cultural experiences.