CANASERAGA — A special supper is put on all over the nation to honor one of Scotland’s most beloved poets.
Robert Burns Supper is put on at the Canaseraga American Legion every year by the M.D Mastin Historical Society.
The ceremony to honor Scottish Poet Robert Burns was held on Jan. 26 with time honored traditions, Scottish heritage, bagpipes, and of course poems. A small raffle was in place throughout the program, which had authentic Scottish items.
The first Burns Night took place in Scotland in 1801 to memorialize the great poet. Nine of his closest friends came together to honor him five years after he died. After its raging success the group decided to have it again in 1802 on Burns’ birthday, Jan. 25. This tradition has been going on ever since in Europe, and made its way to America.
Master of Ceremony, Lauren Oliver, gave a bit of information on what the supper means to the community. The Town of Burns was named after the famous poet, and many who settled here were of Scottish descent.
Oliver presented the time honored tradition of the Immortal Memory Tribute.
“We do the Immortal Memory Tribute to remind everyone why we are here … to honor Robert Burns,” he said. “Robert Burns was born poor and he died poor. Although in his heyday he hobnobbed with the Scottish elite, he remained loyal and sympathetic to the poor class of which he grew up in. His poetry often pokes fun at the rich. He had disgust for the rich and powerful.”
“If you read any of his poetry it is pretty indicative of anything you could write today. Here we are today and nothing has changed,” Oliver continued. “He was quite the political activist at the time. He would show up at fancy dinners as a revered guest wearing his barn boots. He became a hero to the farmers. Although the rich would look down at the poor people, Burns pointed out that all people were susceptible to the same obstacles.”
Oliver enjoys the poem “My Father Was A Farmer” and read that to the guests. Guests read poems, told jokes, and stories of musings in Scotland.
Steve Walker and Chet Norton supplied the lovely bagpipes throughout the program. Walker gave the Selkirk Grace, and the guests were offered real Haggis and smooth Scotch.
Town Historian Holley Spencer went on to discuss the importance of appreciating history.
“I want to lay a little bit of foundation for the final toast by way of a tiny bit of local history. Our mission is in part to educate people on history,” she said. “Originally Old Burns was down on Route 961, which is the back road to Arkport. In that intersection near Tilden Hill there was a thriving little community. That was called Old Burns, but there is nothing there now. They had blacksmiths and churches.”
“You have people in the community today who have vision,” Spencer continued. “These community leaders are important to the day to day operations. Our town supervisor and council people are among them. We like to think that those of us in the historical society share a vision for revitalization.”
Spencer finished the final toast with thanking the others in the community who are day to day heroes like the fire fighters.
Some of the Scotchman who settled here were the Millers, Taylors, Boyds, Campbells, and McCurdys. Spencer mentioned these men helped to build up the community in the 1800s.
Andy Carbone of Hornell made the Roast Beef Dinner and Haggis for the evening.
Burns delighted us all for many years with Auld Lang Syne. To this day the poem is a way to ring in the New Year. For this reason the dinner always ends with singing this tune.