Posted by Kristen Hyde on January 25, 2017 in Holidays
Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

Every year on January 25, people around the UK don their tartan, rustle up a tasty plate of haggis and recite some rhymes in honour of Scotland’s favourite son, Robert Burns.

But Burn’s Night is more than just a good reason to raise a ‘wee dram’ of whisky while enthusiastically belting Auld Lang Syne.

Who was Robert Burns and what are some of the weird and wonderful reasons we celebrate his birth?

1. Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759 in Alloway and is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. After Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, he has more statues dedicated to him around the world than any other non-religious figure.

2. Burns shares his birthday with some famous females including Alicia Keys, Etta James, Virginia Woolf and Charlene, Princess of Monaco.

3. 258 years after his birth, Rabbie Burns is still beloved and has inspired modern recreations of his work. J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel ‘Catcher in the Rye’ is believed to be based on the poem, ‘Comin Thro the Rye’ while John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ is believed to stem from Burns’ poem, ‘To a mouse’. And let’s not forget this epic Burns’ inspired tattoo venture.

4. British-born astronaut, Nicholas Patrick carried a miniature book of Burns poems into orbit on a two-week space mission in 2010. Burns’ poetry completed 217 orbits of Earth.

5. ‘Auld Lang Syne’, traditionally sung at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve, is one of Burns’ most famous pieces of work. Along with ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is recognised by Guinness Book of World Records as one of the three most popular songs in the English language.

6. Burns’ had some pretty impressive DNA – his skull was bigger than the average man’s! The discovery was made after his body was exhumed in 1815 and a plaster cast of his skull was taken for study.

7. Robert Burns was the first face to feature on a commemorative bottle of Coca Cola in 2009.

8. Looking for the largest collection of Burns’ work? You’ll find it in The Mitchell Library in Glasgow which includes translations of his poems in more than 30 languages.

9. Robert Burns fathered quite a big brood. He had at least 12 children with four different women. His youngest child, Maxwell, was born on the day of Burns’ funeral.

10. Burns lived a short life, dying of unknown causes in 1796 at the age of only 37. Common opinion is he died of a blood infection following a tooth extraction.


  1. Thameslass

    “10 things you *possibly* didn’t know about Robert Burns” would be a better title.
    Many of those facts about him should be general knowledge, so why do you assume people are ignorant?

  2. Jane Killeen

    What an interesting article on Robbie Burns! My niece-in-law & I were just talking about him yesterday ~ she & her family & Grandmother (whose parents were from Scotland) attended a ‘Burns Festival’ on January 25th at the Schafly Brewery here in St. Louis, MO ~ bagpipes & all!

  3. Georgina Bensen

    Love this blog and especially the info on Robert Burns. Twelve children with four different women! And died at 37! When did he have time to write? Haha.

  4. Dave Tomlinson

    Robert Burns was an Exciseman for some years and the Customs & Excise HQ library in London has/had an enormous collection of his handwriting in the ledgers and registers used to record the production of whisky in his area.

  5. Tayla Shelley

    This is one of the best Scottish poets at the moment, we should all read at least one of his works, I am also a novice writer, I write essays, you can find examples of my works at Paperial , I think you will be interested to read them.

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