This blog post was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Jonathan Knott

Former British ambassador to Hungary, Budapest

Part of UK in Hungary

23rd January 2015 Budapest, Hungary

Celebrating Robert Burns

Guest blog on the occasion of Burns Night (25 January), written by Deborah Moss, Organising Committee member of “Wee Burns”

It is a tribute to the poet, Robert Burns, that Scots have held Burns Suppers for over 250 years to remember a man whom many consider to be Scotland’s most famous son. According to the Johnnie Walker’s Burns Supper Companion, a “Burns Supper is a sincere celebration of poetic genius and down to earth humanity which Robert Burns possessed to an unparalleled degree.”

Burns Suppers are held all over the world and here in Hungary there are several annual events, each with their own distinctive character. The biggest and most formal event (known as the “Big Burns”) is organised by the Robert Burns International Foundation, this year on Saturday 24 January 2015 at the Corinthia Hotel with the aim of raising millions of forints for sick children. A more informal Burns Supper will be held on the anniversary of Burns’s birth on Sunday 25 January 2015 at The Caledonia. Last, but not least, the “Wee Burns”, a traditional Burns Supper, will be hosted at the Scottish Mission (St Columba’s Church of Scotland) on Tuesday 27 January 2015.

Photo © VisitScotland
Photo © VisitScotland

So what does a traditional Burns Supper involve? Food – haggis, neeps and tatties – play a large part in the proceedings, the haggis first of all being piped in and addressed by Burns’s poem “To a Haggis”. Naturally whisky features as there are several toasts throughout the evening. The main toast is the “Immortal Memory”, the most serious part of the event where the speaker reflects on the life and works of Robert Burns. More light hearted are the “Toast to the Lassies” (ladies) raised by a quick-witted male speaker and its reply, the “Toast to the Laddies” (gentlemen), made by an equally sharp female speaker, in which both speakers joke about the shortcomings of the opposite sex. Guests at a Burns supper enjoy a rich evening of Scottish food, music, songs and poetry, as well as a chance to try some Scottish dancing. A truly unique occasion, and one not to be missed.

To celebrate Burns Night and to get people in the festive mood, I was invited to give a lesson of Scottish country dancing to British Embassy staff. They mastered the basic moves and seemed to have enjoyed themselves very much…

Deborah Moss

“Wee Burns” Organising Committee member

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the British government.

About Jonathan Knott

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take up his post. He left this post on April…

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to
Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take
up his post. He left this post on April 2015.
He has previously held a variety of diplomatic posts at home and
abroad, several with a particular focus on commercial and corporate
finance issues. Jonathan has served in a number of positions in the
British Diplomatic Service since joining in 1988:
Before his appointment was Deputy Head of Mission and Director for Trade and Investment in South Korea from 2008 to 2011.Between 2005 and 2008 he held the post of Deputy Finance Director in the FCO.From 2000 to 2005 he served as First Secretary (Trade, Corporate Affairs and Finance Negotiator) in UKDel OECD Paris.From 1996 to 2000 he was First Secretary (Head of Political/Economic/Aid Section) in Mexico.From 1995 to 1996 he worked in the FCO as Deputy European Correspondent at the EU Directorate.Between 1991 and 1995 he served as Third later Second Secretary (Political / Press and Public Affairs) in Havana.From 1990 to 1991 he was Desk Officer in the FCO’s First Gulf War Emergency Unit.Between 1988 and 1990 he worked as Desk Officer in the FCO in the Anti Drugs Cooperation Department.
Jonathan holds an MA in law from Oxford University, and he is a
member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He speaks
English, French, Spanish and Hungarian. He is married to Angela Susan
Knott and has one daughter and two sons.

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