January 25th is earmarked in Scotland as Burns Night,
an evening to celebrate the writing and life of poet/bon vivant (and
other not as complimentary words depending how you read history) Robert
Burns. You may know him from such works as Auld Lang Syne or My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose? Many of the poems he helped popularize are practically impenetrable to non-Scots speakers (or even scotch-speakers as the evening wears on...) but they have gradually become part of western cultural traditions.
Burns Supper is the name of the specific celebratory dinner held on Burns Night - with readings and a convoluted order of ceremony, from grace to speeches and a specific menu...
The poetry of Burns is all well and good (though Burns only adapted, didn't write the traditional The Selkirk Grace that we love), but any excuse to eat haggis is the real draw here. Contrary to the usual BS, haggis is no more formidable that game sausage, or black pudding, i.e. all good stuff. On the side you will be served mashed turnip (‘neeps’) and potatoes (‘tatties’).
OK, run that sheep's stomach bit past me again? There cannot be a dish so famously (and completely unfairly IMHO) reviled as haggis... Actual ingredients are sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and lots of pepper -wrapped in a sheep's stomach as casing, that part is not eaten. Our family trick is to bake it, don’t boil it... Also, a good gravy is a must as it is very oaty/crumbly and needs something to stick with the mashed potatoes.
The other great thing is the day after, you ball-up the leftover haggis and potato and whatever else is left and fry it in a pan. Add a fried egg and it is (whisky) breakfast of champions. The snag is that is near impossible to get real haggis in the States. Lung is not allowed in foodstuffs here... and that is a component of the ‘great chieftain’.
Just as parents tell stories of the 'tooth fairy', the story told to children (or more often unsuspecting tourists) is that the Haggis is a 4 legged beast a bit like a hedgehog, that has 2 legs shorter than the other so has to run round hills in one direction... and to hunt them one simply chases them the other way so they roll down the hill...