Asked • 07/16/19

When and why did the practice of reading "Address to a Haggis" at Burns Night dinner originate?

Many people and institutions around the world hold [Burns suppers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burns_supper) on or close to Burns Night, 25 January. Part of these events is the traditional reading of Robert Burns's ["Address to a Haggis"](https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Address_to_a_Haggis)<sup>1</sup>, during or after which the haggis is sliced open and served. **What's the history of the reading of this poem at Burns suppers?** How and why did the practice first begin, and how far back does it go? Clearly it's a Burns poem about food, and therefore suitable for a Burns supper, but is it the only one, or is there more to it than that? I'm curious about this tradition, since it's one of few occasions I've been to where the reading of a poem (other than grace) is an important part of a meal. <sup>1</sup> <sub>Which I'd always thought was called "Ode to a Haggis". Am I wrong, or is this an alternative title?</sub>

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