World celebrates Scottish poet's 255th birthday
Words have the power to touch a nation.
Next week, we acknowledge two men who used their voices to do just that.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rose up against the laws of our country, while Robert Burns recorded the acts of his.
Five days after King is widely honored, Burns receives his national recognition.
Burns, born on Jan. 25, 1759, is the national poet of Scotland, according to The Poetry Foundation.
He died on July 21, 1796.
His birthday is still celebrated worldwide.
Since 2000, the St. Andrews Society of Aiken has been part of that celebration.
On Saturday, the Aiken organization will drink scotch, eat haggis and dance in kilts at its annual Robert Burns Dinner.
“It’s good fun and entertainment,” member Bruce Francis said.
A traditional Burns Night dinner contains the speeches “To the Immortal Memory,” which often discusses the man behind the poet, and “To the Lasses,” which addresses the women of Burns’ life. Burns’ works are read and sung, including the New Year’s Eve classic tune “Auld Lang Syne.”
The event began with Burns’ friends and acquaintances shortly after his death and expanded to all of Scotland in 1859, according to the Poetry Foundation.
The Burns Dinner is just one part of Aiken’s St. Andrews Society.
For the last two years, the society has brought music, food and more to downtown Aiken during its Pub Night.
The group travels to Columbia for the Tartan Day South festival.
Members gather to watch movies and study genealogy.
“You don’t have to be Scottish to join ... just interested in Scottish heritage,” Francis said.
Francis has ancestors of Scottish descent.
He has been a St. Andrews Society of Aiken member since the group’s beginning in 2000.
Though the Society isn’t affiliated with a national organization, several cities have similar organizations.
St. Andrew is Scotland’s patron saint, according to the Scotland’s government’s website.
He was a fisherman.
Burns began life as a farmer.
“He’s the working’s man poet,” Francis said.
Francis has seen Burns’ home in Alloway.
The town also houses The Roberts Burns Birthplace museum.
Registration is closed for Aiken’s Burns Dinner.
For those still wanting to experience this event, Columbia’s Robert Burns Society of the Midlands’ will host its Burns Dinner on Jan. 25. Registration for that event will close on Jan. 22. For more information, visit www.rbsm.org.
Membership is always accepted for Aiken’s St. Andrews Society.
For more information, visit www.aikenscots.wildapricot.org.
Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012.
She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the arts and entertainment reporter.