On this day in 1759, a son was born to William Burness and his wife Agnes in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland.
A farmer and self-educated man, William taught his children reading, writing, math, geography and history — well enough that his eldest son, Robert, was able to be tutored in Latin, French and advanced mathematics for three years by a man named John Murdock.
In 1786 Robert Burness published a book of poetry, called “Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect”, and signed his name as “Robert Burns”.
The book was an immediate success, and young Robbie Burns — later considered “The National Bard of Scotland” — went on to pen a great many songs, poems and prose until his untimely death at the age of 37.
He had his faults — Robbie Burns was an inveterate skirt-chaser (fourteen+ children by six+ different ladies), whisky-swiller, general all-around rake (he only married one of his lovers, and their twins were two years old before the banns were read), and rabble-rouser — but the man was a gifted poet whose works were easily quoted by Everyman and have withstood the test of Time.
In the years after Rabbie passed on, his friends gathered on the date of his death to celebrate his life and works; and each year since then — excepting only that the date has changed from the day of his death to the day of his birth — people have continued to celebrate.
Burns Night has become the second National Day in Scotland and is more widely observed than the official National Day in that country. Moreover, in the 250 years since, the tradition of Burns Night has been spread around the world by the Scots and their descendants.
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae the Lord be thankit.
Happy Burns Night, everyone.