25 Years of Bringing Burns to Budapest

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The 25th annual Budapest Burns Supper will be held on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest, promising, as the organizers put it, “Another evening of fine food, fine wine, the inevitable whisky or two, and some traditional Scottish entertainment.”

Tickets went on sale at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 29 and can be ordered through the official website of the organizers, the Robert Burns International Foundation (rbif.hu/events/2022-burns-supper/). Some 300-plus guests are expected to attend the 2022 anniversary event.

A Burns Supper is a celebration of the life and works of the poet Robert (“Rabbie”) Burns. Sometimes called the Scottish Bard and regarded as the country’s national poet, he is to Scotland what Shakespeare is to England. These memorial suppers are typically held on or around the poet’s birthday on Jan. 25, although that wasn’t always the case.

The First Supper

The first Burns club was founded in Greenock, Scotland, in 1801 by merchants from Ayrshire, some of whom had known Burns. They held the first Burns supper on what they thought was his birthday on Jan. 29, 1802, but in 1803 discovered that the correct date was, in fact, Jan. 25, 1759; since then, suppers have been held on that day or the nearest Saturday to it.

While extremely common in Scotland, Burns Suppers are also held throughout the world by groups of Scots, giving everyone the chance to celebrate Scotland’s favorite “bard.” The Budapest Burns Suppers organized by the Robert Burns International Foundation have been held in the Grand Ballroom of the Corinthia since 2004, although the original venue was what was once the Hűvösvölgyi Vigadó, out in District II.

The Budapest evening features all of the usual elements of a Burns Supper, including pipers who travel from Scotland specifically for the event. What makes it stand out is the fundraising element, generating huge amounts over the years to help seriously ill children in Hungary.

The supper is, therefore, also a celebration of the work of the foundation over the previous year. There are no administration costs of organizing the supper, as these are covered by sponsors. A significant part of the money raised on the night comes from the raffle and auction.

A Typical Budapest Burns Supper Menu

• Cold Starter

• Fresh Haggis, flown in from Inverness, Scotland, with Champit Neeps and Tatties (mashed swede or rutabaga and potatoes)

• Main Course

• Dessert

• Cheese with Oatcakes

• Coffee and Tea with shortbread

For more on Burns the man, there is also a very thorough biography on the website of the Encyclopædia Britannica (britannica.com/biography/Robert-Burns). You might also check out robertburns.org, the website of Burns Country.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of December 3, 2021.

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