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Get your virtual Burns supper on the map!

By Alan Beresford

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SCOTS across the north-east and beyond are being asked to share their virtual Burns night celebrations.

Robert Burns, Scotland's world-renowned Bard.
Robert Burns, Scotland's world-renowned Bard.

More than 2500 worldwide contemporary Burns suppers feature in a new interactive world map as part of a research project led by academics from the University of Glasgow.

Now the Glasgow researchers are asking Burns Clubs and Scots across the globe to join in a virtual Burns Night on January 25 by sharing photos and details of how they are marking the 2021 celebrations using the hashtag #VirtualBurnsNight

The University of Glasgow is also working in partnership with the Scottish Government who are encouraging people all around the world to take part in a ‘Burns Night In’ this year and join together in a ‘toast’ on social media to celebrate Scotland’s welcoming and inclusive culture.

The new interactive map – part of The Burns Supper in History and Today project – features 2500 Burns suppers across five continents and gives an inventory of their menus, settings, entertainments, and orders of ceremony.

This is the broadest, most details record of Burns Night activities ever made to this day by the Centre for Robert Burns Studies, the largest concentration of Burns experts in the world. However, researchers hope that their call to Scots to join in their #VirtualBurnsNight will help expand the map and their research project even further.

Demonstrating the ongoing legacy and appeal of Robert Burns work, the map will be featured on http://www.scotland.org/burns as part of the international promotion of Burns work and Scottish culture, alongside information and materials designed to help people celebrate Burns Night safely at home this year.

Since the first supper was held in July 1801 by the bard’s close friends as a memorial dinner it has morphed into a worldwide event celebrating Scotland’s distinctive heritage and culture.

Professor Gerard Carruthers, Co-Director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies (CBRS) based at the University’s College of Arts, said: “Robert Burns is global writer whose life and work have given rise to one of the great world cultural phenomena – the Burns supper.

"At the heart of this celebration of Scotland’s national bard is his word – from poetry to song. And this Burns Night 2021, due to a global pandemic, many of us won’t physically be able to come together.

“In a testimony to the bard’s ensure appeal not only in Scotland but around the world, we are calling Scots, at home and abroad, and lovers of Burns to join with us in Glasgow to virtually celebrate and map this global impact and appeal.

“Burns speaks strongly to people through his words which still have resonance right up to today not just in Scotland.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Burns Night is one of Scotland’s most well-known and best loved celebrations, enjoyed here and across the world.

"Although we are unable to meet up physically this year, we can still come together and continue the traditions of Burns Night from the safety of home.

“This map is an excellent accompaniment to the range of virtual events taking place this year showcasing an incredible array of artistic talent and I encourage everyone to get involved.”

Today it is estimated that over nine and a half million people around the world take part in a Burns supper every year.

Born in 1759, Robert Burns’ poems and songs have been translated into every major language, and his influence has extended far beyond Scotland.

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