On 25th January, the birthday of Robert Burns, Scottish people across the world will be celebrating Burns Night. Here in Cardiff, festivities were traditionally organised by the Cardiff Caledonian Society, whose members would gather together for their annual Burns Night dinner.
The Cardiff Caledonian Society was founded in 1886. Its aims were to promote social and friendly intercourse among Scotsmen resident in Cardiff and District, which included organising dinners and social gatherings; to aid deserving Scotsmen and their families who may stand in need of the influence and assistance of the Society, and to encourage educational schemes in Cardiff amongst persons of Scottish nationality. The heyday period for the society was during the 1920s and 1930s.
The records of the Cardiff Caledonian Society, held at Glamorgan Archives, include a series of programmes for Burns Night celebrations (D677/3), an annual event in the Society’s calendar.
The programme for the 1924 dinner, held at the Bute Salon in Cox’s Restaurant, Cardiff, includes a traditional Scottish Bill O’ Fare. On the menu was Kail Broo, followed by The Haggis wi’ Champit Tatties, A wee bit o’ the Lammie’s Mither wi’ Red Curran Geelie, Tatties roastit or b’iled, an sproots. For dessert? Rabbie’s Ain Pudd’n, Tremlin Tam, App’l Tert or Fr’it Salad. And all topped off with Cups o’ Cowfie. Quite the feast!
The Haggis was the highlight of the Bill O’ Fare and would be piped in and addressed by one of the guests. There were also several toasts during the evening, including the traditional toast to the lassies, and their response.
Alongside the programmes are two ‘Scottish Passports’ issued to guests attending the Burns Night event and including the programme and menu for the evening (D677/4/2) The lassies who attended the celebrations were also presented with a souvenir containing a greeting and a song (D677/4/3).
It was common practice to invite the Prime Minister to attend the celebrations, and the society’s files include correspondence with the Prime Minister’s Office (D677/5/1). In 1929 Ramsay McDonald was invited, but politely refused as it clashed with the Five Power Conference at Chequers. Burns Night telegrams were received by the Society from King George V (D677/5/1), who always congratulated them on a successful evening.
We hope that all the Scottish people in Cardiff and across south Wales have a wonderful Burns Night on 25 January.