Burns Night Quiz | Food, drink and Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns

January has few things going for it, but Burns Night is one. Here's our quiz on the evening itself and the namesake behind it.

robert burns burns night quiz

January has few things going for it, but Burns Night is one. In the midst of the endless, dreich misery, comes an evening of celebration, with Haggis, neeps, tatties and dram or two of whisky.

There is a man we have to thank for generously lending his name and birthdate to said evening. Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns is commonly held as Scotland’s national bard, his works spanning the Scots language, Scots dialect and English. His name continues to hold an increasingly mystical significance across Scotland and the wider world, but how much do you know about the late, great poet, and the celebrations that now mark the 25th January?

Answers are at the bottom!

robert burns statue

Statue of Robert Burns in Leith – Edinburgh, Scotland

1) The 25th January is celebrated as Burns night, commemorating the birthday of the Scottish bard, but in what year was Burns born?

– 1759

– 1777

– 1796

2) In what Scottish town was Robert Burns born?

– Edinburgh

– Alloway

– Aberfoyle

3) What was the profession of Burns’ father? After his father’s death, Burns himself would briefly, and not very succesfully, follow in his footsteps.

– Farmer

– Shipbuilder

– Coal Miner

Burns' Cottage Burns Night Robert Burns

A man dressed a Robert Burns has a pint in a pub in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

4) Other than poetry, what career did Robert Burns eventually settle on for himself?

– Lawyer

– Novelist

– Exciseman   

5) His first poetry collection was published when Burns was 27 years old. What was it called?

– Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect

– Bonnie Dundee

– Scots Unbound and Other Poems 

Burns' Cottage Burns Night Robert Burns

1759: Burns Cottage in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland, the birthplace of Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1759. Engraving by G. Cook after a drawing by J. O. Brown from an old engraving. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)

6) In 1787, Burns wrote a poem beginning: “Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!” It is titled ‘Address to ___’? 

– Scotland

– His fiancee

– A Haggis

7) A Burns Night supper traditionally starts with a soup course, Cullen Skink often being the chosen dish, but from which fish is the Scottish soup made?

– Trout

– Haddock

– Cod

Robert Burns Burns Night quiz

Haggis is sold at a butcher shop to people who will celebrate Burns night over the weekend, January 24, 2004 in London, England. Scots across the world annually celebrate the life of Robert Burns, the country’s most famous bard, with recitations of his poetry, the eating of haggis and imbibing of whisky. (Photo Illustration by Graeme Robertson/Getty Images)

8) Well known for his fondness for women, Burns has been latterly described as something of a ‘rural casanova’. Nonetheless, he was eventually tamed – in theory, at least – when he married which lady in 1788?

– Charlotte Carpenter

– Marie Brady

– Jean Armour 

9) Burns famously addressed a poem to an animal. What was it?

– Mouse

– Stag

– Dog

The Betrothal Of Robert Burns And Highland Mary

Engraving depicting Mary Campbell (also known as Highland Mary 1763-1786) and Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) exchange Bibles over the Water of Fail in South Ayrshire, Scotland, 14th May 1786. Engraved by Richard Josey from a painting – ‘The Betrothal of Robert Burns and Highland Mary’ (1882) – by James Archer. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

10) One of Burns’ most famous works is now best known as a song. What is it? 

– Scotland the Brave 

– Auld Lang Syne 

– Jerusalem

11) Ever the romantic, he once wrote a famous ‘love lament’ with the which flower in the title?

– Rose

– Thistle

– Primrose

12) His wife was known to have eight children. How many is Burns believed to have fathered?

– Nine

– Eleven

– Thirteen

robert burns

13) In the late 19th century, a first edition copy of Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was found in a shop. The shopkeeper, oblivious to its worth, used it as spare paper and ripped pages out, until a passerby spotted the book and bought it. But what kind of shop was it?

– Butcher’s

– Barber’s

– Baker’s

14) Which famous musician cited Robert Burns as his biggest inspiration?

– Bob Dylan

– Leonard Cohen

– Alex Turner

15) How old was Robert Burns when he died? 

– 37

– 51

– 65


Circa 1935: The thatched cottage home and birthplace of poet Robert Burns in Ayrshire. (Photo by Herbert Felton/Herbert Felton/Getty Images)

16) The first Burns Night supper was held in memoriam at the Burns Cottage, how many years after the poet’s death?

– 5

– 25

– 50

17) A prayer Burns wrote has become commonplace before eating on Burns Night. It goes: 
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be Thankit!
But what is the prayer called?

– Lord be Thankit

– Laird of Laggan

– The Selkirk Grace

Answers below!

1) 1759


2) Alloway


3) Farmer


4) Exciseman


5) Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect


6) Haggis


7) Haddock


8) Jean Armour


9) Mouse


10) Auld Lang Syne


11) Rose


12) Thirteen


13) Barber’s


14) Bob Dylan


15) 37


16) 5


17) The Selkirk Grace

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