Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Article excerpt


IHAVE been totally bemused by the number of my friends providing social media with details of their Burns Night celebrations.

None of them is a Scot, or resident in Scotland, so the only question that springs to mind is: why? Deep love for the man, with his gift for conveying the blindingly obvious in partially comprehensible dialect doggerel? Definitely not.

Addiction to haggis? Hardly. A yearning for the skirl of the pipes? Come on. An excuse to drink lots of whisky? Yes, but you can do that equally well by your own fireside, or in a pub with chums. So why Burns Night? Surely only because it is convenient excuse for a booze-up to lift the spirits after the flood of post-Christmas bills and to raise two fingers to the puritan promoters of Dry January.

An opportunity eagerly latched onto by publicans and restaurateurs to drum up business in the lull between New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day.

It is also part of a more general trend to import and enthuse about other people's festivities, while losing interest in our own. Yes, I used to wander fruitlessly around Longbenton with a candle in a hollowed-out turnip at Halloween 50 years ago, but the full-blown festival of ghouls, ghosts and trick-ortreating is unmistakably a transatlantic arriviste.

Along with school proms and the lunacy of Black Friday: a retail spending spree that only makes sense in the US because it is the day after their Thanksgiving holiday.

Though only the brave would bet against many British people enthusiastically sitting down to roast turkey and pumpkin pie on the last Thursday of November each year sometime quite soon.

Chinese New Year, St Patrick's Day, Eid, Diwali - the list of imported celebrations keeps rolling on. Milad un Nabi, celebrating the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, was a new one on me when The Journal recently announced a parade through Newcastle to celebrate it on February 25. Which is odd, considering that most Islamic calendars suggest that it should be marked this year on January 4 and December 24.

Perhaps the urge to keep up the Christmas and Burns Night sequence of doing something celebratory on the 25th of each month simply proved irresistible. …

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