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That time of year is approaching fast - the immensely popular annual Northwest Territorial Pipe Band's Burn's Night Supper. This is an annual Scottish cultural event across the planet. But it is also the must-attend social event of the year for Yellowknife. Dust-off your brogues, dig out your Sgian-dubh and targ (no claymores or broadswords please), iron-out those pleats in your kilt and enjoy a Scottish cultural evening hosted by the Northwest Territorial Pipe Band.
Robert Burns is the poet laureate of Scotland and credited with starting what we call today, the Romantic movement. His birthday was on 25 January 1759 and across the world groups gather to recite his poetry, play the pipes and drums, dance and engage in other cultural activities. There will be haggis, neeps and tatties. There will be "beverages". There will be a cèilidh after (dancing). Details of the programme are still being finalized.
Here are the particulars:
- 2024 Burns Night Supper
- 27 January 2024
- 6 PM for cocktails and 7 PM for dinner and show (the marching in of the Haggis)
- The Elks (upstairs)
- Tickets $100 pp
- 80 tickets only will be issued
- Tickets may be purchased using Zeffy at: https://www.zeffy.com/en-CA/ticketing/2578f152-94d8-4406-91be-64c5a2b008f8
Due to the limited number of tickets and popularity of this event, tickets are always in high demand. We often sell out early but establish a waiting list. If tickets sell out, you can email NWT Pipe Band to be put on the waiting list.
We will do our best to accommodate. Block seating is possible on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Payment may be made by:
- the Zeffy ticketing system (preferred)
What is Burns Night?
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The Time They Banned Christmas
"... the kirke within this kingdome is now purged of all superstitious observatione of dayes... thairfor the saidis estatis have dischairged and simply dischairges the foirsaid Yule vacance and all observation thairof in tymecomeing, and rescindis and annullis all acts, statutis and warrandis and ordinances whatsoevir granted at any tyme heirtofoir for keiping of the said Yule vacance, with all custome of observatione thairof, and findis and declaires the samene to be extinct, voyd and of no force nor effect in tymecomeing."
Act discharging the Yule vacance (2 June 1640)
The Scots traditionally have not celebrated Christmas. Prior to 1560 Christmas was a time for feasting. The year 1560 is important as it is the start of the Protestant Reformation. The Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) - or Covenanters - frowned on anything to do with Roman Catholicism and in 1640 the Scottish Parliament made the Yule vacations illegal. One has to put this in perspective as 1640 was right at the start of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. In England, part of this war is known as the English Civil War. Even when Charles II was restored to the throne, Christmas celebrations were frowned upon. It took until 1958 for 25 December to become a public holiday. This is one of the reasons why New Year's or the Hogmanay is a more important celebration for the Scots.
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Burns Night is a celebration of the life and poetry of Robert Burns, the poet laureate of Scotland. He wrote in the Scots language and in a light Scots dialect of English in the late 18th century. He was a pioneer of the Romantic movement and inspired both liberalism and socialism. Not only did he write but he also collected Scottish folk songs and in so doing preserved Scottish culture. Robert Burns started out as a labourer but through hard work and education rose to the middle class as a poet, intellectual, satirist and exciseman (government official). He had several wives and 12 children. His influence on the Romantic movement and 19th century intellectualism was profound, including on Sir Walter Scott. Robert Burns lived from 1759 to 1796 - only for 37 years. But Burns Night is more than just Robert Burns, it is a celebration of the Scottish nation and the Scottish diaspora.
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Haggis is a savoury pudding.
When one speaks of a "pudding" one does not speak of cream-based sweet desserts such as custard, mousse, rice or Jell-O. In the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth a pudding could be sweet or savoury. For example black pudding or a Yorkshire pudding are savoury puddings whereas rice pudding, Christmas pudding or a treacle sponge pudding are sweet puddings. There is a Canadian connection to sweet puddings - the sticky toffee pudding may have origins from two Royal Canadian Air Force Officers billeted in England during the Second World War.
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Bannock is also known as skaan (or scone) or Indian Bread and is found throughout North American Indigenous cuisine, including that of the Inuit, First Nations and Métis. The word "bannock" comes from the Scots dialect of English with its first mention in literature of the 8th century. Historically it was used mostly in Ireland, Scotland and northern England. That said, it may have been common in various forms in pre-Columbian exchange Indigenous societies.
Original bannocks were heavy, flat cakes of barley and oatmeal. Today most are made with baking powder as a leavening agent. They can be made from a variety of ingredients and sometimes are made for special occasions. The most common type of bannock from Scotland is Selkirk bannock - fruitcake like - make from wheat flour and with many raisins. It is named after the town of Selkirk where a baker produced it. Queen Victoria is reputed to have taken her tea with Sir Walter Scott's granddaughter when she visited her at his estate known as Abbotsford.
A type of bannock existed prior to contact with Europeans amongst the Indigenous peoples of the New World. Flour was made from maize, roots etc. from the land. As access to plants and animals native to the traditional lands become more and more restricted by the influx of non-indigenous settlers, the Indigenous peoples came to rely more and more on government rations - typically wheat flour, sugar, lard and butter. These ingredients were high calorie, low nutrient ingredients but they were shelf-stable and capable of being shipped long distances. For the Indigenous peoples they survived on this despite the loss of access to country foods. There are some who regard this as part of the legacy of colonialism and of assimilation. Because of the lack of nutrients, bannock may also have contributed to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
But one has to put this into perspective. For the Scots and the Irish in particular, starvation was a reality and so was their impoverished lifestyle. They ate peasant food for they had little wealth and could not afford luxury foods. For many, leaving their homeland to immigrate to Canada (or the United States) gave them a chance of a better life. Haggis, for example, was not a rich man's food but rather a form of "humble pie" - as were turnips, potatoes and oats.
Nutritionally, bannock can be improved by improving the ingredients - using whole wheat, buckwheat, oats, nuts; better sources of fat such as olive oil; adding local berries; etc.
- https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/rsi/fnb/bannockawareness.pdf (a really interesting cookbook on Bannock and especially Indigenous Bannock including nutrition)
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