10 cool facts about Robbie Burns

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Sales of haggis outside of Scotland are sure to go up this week as fans of Scottish poet Robbie Burns celebrate his life and work with Burns Suppers.

Arguably Scotland's most well-known and revered poet, Burns was born on January 25, 1759, and his birthday is marked around the world with dinners featuring the oatmeal and offal-laden national dish of Scotland, plenty of single malt, and the traditional recitation of Burns's poem Address to a Haggis.

Let's raise a glass (or a red, red rose) to Robbie Burns (or Rabbie, as his buddies would've called him) on his 255th birthday. To mark the occasion, here are 10 cool facts about the man, the myth, and the legend.

1. His handsome mug is everywhere

There are more public statues of Burns around the world than any other writer. Apparently, only Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus have more statues when it comes to non-religious figures.

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This statue of Robbie Burns is in New York's Central Park.

2. People have preserving his literary legacy for ages

The Burns Monument Trust, established in 1814, is considered the world's earliest literary heritage group, and predates the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust by more than 30 years.

3. He's a hit songwriter

The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Burns's Auld Lang Syne as being one of the three most popular songs in the English language, eclipsed only by Happy Birthday and For He's a Jolly Good Fellow.

robert-burns-stamp.jpg4. He was hugely popular in the USSR


In 1956, to mark the 160th anniversary of Burns's death, the Soviet Union commissioned a commemorative stamp, making it the first country/constitutional state to honour the poet in such a way.

5. Michael Jackson was a huge fan

Pop music legend Michael Jackson was such a huge fan of Burns's poetry that he recorded a collection of show tunes with American producer David Gest based on Burn's life and work that were never formally released.

6. He inspired Salinger

The title of J.D. Salinger's iconic 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye was based on Burn's poem Comin' Thro' the Rye.

7. He beat Braveheart (sort of)

In 2009, Burns was crowned as the Greatest Scot of all time, narrowly edging out rebellion leader William Wallace, in a public vote as part of a national television special on STV.

8. You may not have actually wanted a visit from him back in the day

Towards the end of his life, Burns continued to write poetry but found regular employment as a tax collector.

robbie-burns-app.jpg9. Out on a date and need to reference a Burns poem to look sophisticated? There's an app for that

In 2011, the Scottish government released a free iPhone app that featured a searchable database of every poem written by Burns and a handy guide to hosting a Burns Supper.

10. His friends started a tradition in his honour that became an international phenomenon

The first recorded Burns Suppers took place in 1801 and featured a few close friends of the writer who got together to mark the fifth anniversary of his death. They couldn't possibly have known that, hundreds of years later, people from across the globe continue to gather in pubs and homes to re-create their tribute.

Sources: Scotland.org, Burns Museum.org






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