For several years our small campus and many others across the country with strong Scottish ties have held “Robert Burns Dinners”, or similar analogs. These “Robert Burns Dinners,” or “Burns Suppers” have been held since the 5th anniversary of Burns’ death and are generally held around his birthday on January 25. These dinners are steeped in tradition that dates back hundreds of years and are an integral facet of Scottish culture.
On January 22, after more than a month of planning, the Student Programming Board (SPB) held our college’s annual “Robert Burns Dinner” in the Clayton Center for The Arts. The dinner is in remembrance of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, who lived in Dumfries, United Kingdom, from 1759 to 1796 and wrote well over 200 songs and sonnets. Each year, the dinner features a traditional Scottish meal, which includes potatoes, meat and haggis (a pudding containing various parts of sheep traditionally encased within the animal’s stomach), along with scotch and wine for those over the age of 21.
“I haven’t been to the Robert Burns Dinner since freshman year, since I was abroad last J-Term, but as a freshman it really cultivated the pride I have for our school’s Scottish heritage,” said SPB member Boomer Russell. “I love being able to partake in the sharing of culture with my fellow Scots.”
Portraits of the poet were displayed towards the front of the space so that the guests could visualize the writer of these poems, along with books from Maryville College’s library containing the works of Burns. Over a dozen tables were adorned with faux vines and lanterns, which created a warm, old-world atmosphere not unlike the highlands from which Burns hailed.
The bagpipes were played this year by Kelly Shipe, who has played the event for several years. Poetry by Robert Burns was read by several students, including Maggie Nielson, Kameron Graves, Sarah Hensley, Brinley Knowles, and Eleanor Forester. Some poems such as “A Red, Red Rose,” “A Fond Kiss,” “Auld Lang Syne” and “My Heart’s in The Highlands.” Trysten Kienzl, president of SPB and senior at Maryville College, was the head speaker during the event.
The event also allowed students to freely socialize and dress up for the night. Dr. Barbara Wells, Vice President and Dean of the College; Karen Eldridge, Executive Director for Marketing and Communication and many other faculty members also attended the event. The atmosphere and reactions to the guests of the event indicated it was a successful night.