This month we shine a light on a key calendar date for one of our Home Nations – Scotland. Burns Night is a celebration of the life and work of Robert Burns, Scotland’s most famous poet. Robert Burns produced hundreds of poems and songs, including one that many of us sing (or at least hum) on New Year’s Eve – Auld Lang Syne.
The 25th of January marks the official day of celebration for the poet because it is his birthday. The celebration began as a remembrance for the poet among his friends and family but evolved over the years into a national day of celebration. Scottish tradition underpins the Burns Night celebrations so foods like haggis, neeps and tatties, Cullen Skink Soup, shortbread are likely to be within reach that evening.
The pandemic will no doubt have put a dampener on the typical Burns Night celebrations this year, but we spoke with a few of our Scottish wrestlers to find out how they planned to adapt their Burns Night celebrations this year.
Finn Marshall has been wrestling for over 20 years and has represented Team Scotland and Team GB from School boys to Seniors. He has won 9 British championships and 13 Scottish Championships and credits wrestling for helping to manage childhood hyperactivity. Burns Night is extra special for Finn as it also coincides with his birthday so in previous years he would have celebrated at home with extended family or attended a Ceilidh – or traditional gathering with folk music and dancing.
‘This year will be very different as I will have less family around due to the lockdown restrictions. I luckily have the day off from my job in the Scottish Ambulance Service, so I will start the day home schooling my two boys with Robert Burns Poems which the school has provided and then celebrate at my home with wife and children enjoying haggis and birthday cake’.
Abbie has been wrestling for 7 years and is the current Scottish champion. Abbie started wrestling out of curiosity when her local gym started offering sessions and progressed to the national talent squad and U23s team.
Abbie would typically spend Burns Night at her gran’s house with the rest of her extended family where they would wear tartan, eat haggis and potatoes, and read poems. Her school usually encourages participation in Burns Night celebration by encouraging students to wear a piece of tartan to raise money for charity.
‘This year I will be celebrating with some of my family at home and although it will be very different, I’m sure we’ll make the most of it’.
Max Freyne started his wrestling career in a traditional form of wrestling called Scottish Backhold Wrestling. This type of wrestling is normally seen at traditional Scottish festivals called the ‘Highland Games, takes place outside on grass and wrestlers compete in kilts. During his career he has placed second at the European Celtic Wrestling championships (74kg), won the Icelandic adult championships (81kg), won the Scottish Open (74kg) and placed 4th in the English Open 2020.
Although the pandemic has affected his training and other parts of his life he is grateful that has been able to be with his family during the difficult times. ‘My normal traditions for Burns night won’t be changing due to the pandemic, I will be having a traditional dinner of Haggis, neeps and tatties with my family and spending some quality time with them’.