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Celebrating the Scottish bard


It’s the one night of the year when everyone gets to be Scottish.

Robert Burns’ Night, set aside to honour Scotland’s most famous poet, goes Friday at La Place Rendez-Vous, with cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at seven.

Tickets, which cost $35 each, are available at McTaggart’s, the Rendez-Vous, and the Fort Frances Times.

Kilts are welcome, but not necessary. And while it’s not officially black tie, a shirt and tie definitely seems to be the dress code for the evening.

"We try to keep it on the formal level," organizer Bob Hamilton noted, but added no one really makes a big fuss over that.

The important part to the evening is to remember, honour, and emulate the philosophy and poetry of Robbie Burns, Hamilton stressed.

"He was noted for enjoying the zest of life," he said. "He loved life and poetry--and women. He had 13 children, and only seven were legitimate."

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of Robbie Burns was the fact he managed to climb the rigid social ladder of the late 18th-century British Empire.

"He sort of transcended all of the class systems," Hamilton said. "He was a legend in his own time when he died at 37."

The first Robbie Burns supper was held in 1815, and has become a world-wide tradition since. But while Burns may have been Scottish, Robbie Burns Night isn’t exclusively a Scottish festival.

"He has a universal feel," Hamilton said. "It transcends all the races."

But that universal feel comes with several Scottish traditions, not the least of which includes the ceremonial serving of the haggis, along with several libations of Scotch (single-malt, of course).

For those worried about getting home after toasting the haggis one time too many, complimentary rides will be offered between 11 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.

"We do some singing, some old tunes, basically emulate the lifestyle of Robbie Burns," Hamilton said. "It’s a gathering of social friendly gentlemen."

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