Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh's Scots Celebrate Heritage with Burns Suppers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh's Scots Celebrate Heritage with Burns Suppers

Article excerpt

"Fair and full is your honest, jolly face,

"Great chieftain of the sausage race!"

- From "Address to a Haggis" by Robert Burns (translation)

For more than 200 years, Scots throughout the world have gathered in January for Burns Suppers to celebrate the life of Robert Burns, the prolific poet and lyricist of the 18th century.

"When Scots began to [migrate] all over the world, honoring Burns became a way to get together to have a few glasses of Scotch and celebrate their heritage," says Betsy Bethel-McFarland, pipe sergeant of the Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh.

The band will hold its annual Burns Supper at 5 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church Hall in Mt. Lebanon.

An "everyman" poet and farmer considered by many to be the Bard of Scotland, Robert Burns authored more than 1,000 compositions in his 37 years, many depicting Scottish heritage. He is credited with writing the lyrics to "Auld Lang Syne," the traditional New Year's ballad.

The dinner will showcase the band, dressed in Clan Donald tartan kilts, performing songs by Burns. The attire includes dress shirts, band ties, knee-high woolen socks and "ghillie brogues," tasseled shoes with strings that tie around the legs.

The highlight of the evening will be professional piper Patrick Regan of the North Side, reciting Burns' poem, "Address to a Haggis," the loose sausage, traditionally made with organ meat and stomach casing. In keeping with tradition, the evening concludes with all in attendance forming a circle to sing "Auld Lang Syne."

Scottish-born fiction writer Isabel Harrar will give a spoken tribute to Burns and the Celtic Spirit Highland Dancers will perform.

Along with haggis made with lamb and oats, dinner will include steak pie, and cookies from Stoecklein's Bakery in Penn Hills.

The event serves as a fundraiser to support the band's need for new snare drums at $1,200 each, and tartan kilts that cost $400 each.

Named for former Idlewild Park owner, C.K. Macdonald, who sponsored the band in 1967, the band consists of about 30 drummers and pipers. It was founded by members of the Carnegie Tech University Pipe Band. …

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