Sonsie Face

Last night, somewhat early as the bard’s birthday was January 25th, we partook of Sonsie Face. We attended the Burns Supper in our local village hall and savoured what Rabbie Burns, Scotland’s national bard, called –

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,

Great chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!

These are the first lines of Tae a haggis, the poem with which the haggis is addressed at every Burns Supper before being slashed open with a dirk (dagger).

Selkirk Grace

Selkirk Grace placemat

Traditional Burns Suppers start with what is known as The Selkirk Grace. The organisers of ours had produced nifty paper place mats with the grace printed on them.

First comes soup, Scotch Broth or some other such traditional soup, thick with carrots, potatoes and onions, vegetables available during winter months that provide a warming and filling dish.

Vegetable soup

Burns Supper soup

A hush of expectation, the pipes are heard whining into action, people get to their feet as the piper leads the chef into the room, carrying aloft a large platter with the haggis, product of a waste-not-want-not historic lifestyle in which nothing which could be eaten was left unused. Catering necessities, and the need to give diners hot haggis, means that a small Sonsie Face is used for this ceremony while the haggis destined for diners is dished up in the kitchen.

Haggis in dish

Sonsie Face – the haggis

Piper and speaker with haggis

Haggis, piper and speaker

The haggis is duly addressed, speaker and piper enjoy a dram of whisky, then back to the kitchen with it for the already dished up fare to be served. The haggis is served with vegetables that as in Burns’ time and now are plentiful in winter, champit tatties (mashed potatoes) and bashed neeps (mashed turnips).

Haggis, potatoes and turnip

Haggis, tatties and neeps

I did note one young man whisper urgently with one of the organisers, to be led towards the kitchen and given a large bottle of tomato ketchup that he squirted lavishly over everything on his plate. Ah well, each to his own taste!

Sometimes trifle is served as afters, but we had plates with a mouth-watering selection of cheeses and oatcakes. Yummy!

Plate of cheeses

Platter of cheeses to smooch our tastebuds

An interval for some chat and to refill glasses and then the entertainment began. Burns songs, a poem or two, more songs, the toast to the lassies (always an occasion for a bit of banter and leg-pulling) followed by the reply from the lassies (a welcome opportunity for us to get our own back!).


Songs…and more songs interspersed with stories…and a bit of inter-village rivalry

Two ladies singing

Two local ladies with delightful voices giving us a selection of Burns songs

This was no grand showcase Burns Supper but a community organised one for the community. Many had put in hours of work and contributed ingredients, floral decorations and raffle prizes for the evening to be a success. That, along with the community spirit and chitchat made it, like the haggis, a chieftain o’ the supper race.


About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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9 Responses to Sonsie Face

  1. Margaret says:

    Fun! i’ve always wanted to do a Burns supper.

  2. Sounds exotic! I’d pass the haggis and enjoy the soup and selection of cheese.

    • Apart from during the Burns season not many people here eat haggis nowadays, though many hotels offer it for foreign guests, and there is a bit of a fad for using it on canapes for upmarket receptions. Served on mini oatcakes or blinis raises it from ‘peasant’ food to haute cuisine – apparently!

  3. chris says:

    Haggis on mini oatcakes sounds tasty. As does that plate of cheeses and oatcakes. I’d love to try a Burns supper someday.

  4. mybrightlife says:

    Sounds like a gread way to add a bit of fun to the long winter.

  5. Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your design. Bless you

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