One could be forgiven for bringing a Scottish-English dictionary to the annual Burns Nicht Dinner, hosted by the Martha’s Vineyard Scottish Society.
Otherwise, it might be difficult to figure out what exactly was on the menu.
There was haggis, a dish made of sheep offal (an Island sheep, in this case, raised by Northern Pines Farm), as the centerpiece of the mutli-course meal. The haggis entered the dining room of the Harbor View Hotel on a large wooden platter, just behind bagpiper Tony Peak and just ahead of a line of men dressed to the kilt in formal highlander wear. The crowded room clapped and cheered as the haggis made its way to the front table, where Alan Reekie delivered an Ode Tae a Haggis before the dish was divided up to share and dinner began.
There was cock-a-leekie soup and baked finnan haddie; chappit tatties and bashed neeps.
A wee bit of English influence was also served up, in the form of braised beef pie and a light trifle for dessert.
Burns Nicht celebrates the birthday of the Scottish bard Robert Burns (this year, his 255th), and has been a tradition since 1796. The Scottish Society has hosted the dinner on the Vineyard for 27 years.
On Friday, men and woman alike dressed in tartans of red, black, navy and cream. A few, including Mr. Reekie and Chappy Ferry owner Peter Wells, donned the Vineyard tartan, which features purple against green.
Edgartown poet laureate Steve Ewing presided as master of ceremonies. Early in the evening, Mr. Ewing dedicated a poem and raised a toast to Scottish Society member Richard Brown — ”one of the quiet leaders of the Island” — who died last year at the age of 97.
Toasts continued throughout the evening, with glasses lifted for the President of the United States of America, the Queen of England, the laddies, the lassies and of course, Robert Burns himself. The evening also featured a performance by the Internationally Acclaimed Scottish Society Singers, led by director Phil Dieterrich.
Burns Nicht is also a means of fundraising for the Scottish Society, which gives scholarships each year to graduating high school students. A raffle, featuring items ranging from Scottie dog pillows to tartan bags to various makes of scotch, continued throughout the evening. Clarence A. (Trip) Barnes 3rd led a small auction after dinner.
Last year the Scottish Society gave scholarships to four Vineyarders.