MC celebrates Scottish heritage at the Robert Burns Dinner

On a Fri. Feb 1, notes of bagpipes could be heard from the center of campus as students, faculty and staff alike celebrated Maryville College’s Scottish heritage at the annual Robert Burns Dinner. Senior Sam Newton, official piper for the college, played from the porch of the candle-lit Profitt Dining Room to welcome the nearly 75 attendees to a night of Scottish culture. A free event sponsored by the Student Programming Board (SPB), the dinner followed the conventional sequence of Burns Night suppers, which are held around the world.

The night revolved around a traditional Scottish meal, provided at MC by the Aramark catering services, including shepherd’s pie, potato and leek soup, scones, tipsy cake and even an Americanized version of the dreaded, but delicious, haggis. After the reading of the “Selkirk Grace,” Newton piped as he led the dining services staff on a procession around the room with the haggis, before it was placed on its pedestal in the back of the room.

Senior “Scotty” John Robertson, a four-year MC student from Aberdeen, Scotland, served as the master of ceremonies, to great pleasure of those in attendance, with his Scottish accent and kilted appearance. His authentic reading of the “Address to the Haggis” in the Scots language, which Burns is famous for writing the piece in, was impressive to all in attendance. Following the meal, the entertainment began as everyone joined MC students Hollie Malin and Patrick Dalton in singing “Auld Lang Syne,” one of Burns’ most recognizable works.

The night continued with the recitation of Burns poems by juniors Katie Fair and Garrett Painter, and senior Leah Petr. A notorious ladies’ man, Burns’ poems are famous for not only his use of the vernacular and his love for Scotland, but for their often less than savory nature. This mischievous side of Burns makes Burns Night suppers anything but dry poetry readings. Then Robertson returned to the podium to encourage everyone of age to have their glass of wine or jigger of Glenlivet single-malt Scotch at the ready as the highlight of the night was about to begin: the toasts.

The “Toast to the Lassies” and the “Toast to the Laddies” are a traditional part of Burns Night in which men first give a comical, tongue-in-cheek toast to the lassies, often with only thinly concealed sexual references and innuendo. The lassies then get their chance at a rebuttal, throwing everything the men said right back at them.

This year, seniors KJ Bean, Forrest Clarke, and Chris Bowen toasted to the lassies, outlining their attributes by residence hall. Senior lassies Paris Wilson, Melanie Kirby, Jerica Johnson and Leah Petr then put the laddies in their place, and closed out the night with a toast that traced the lads’ progression through their four years at Maryville College.

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