Haggis
A traditional haggis prepared in celebration of Burns Night in ScotlandReuters

On Wednesday (25 January 2017) it will be Burns Night, a big annual knees-up in Scotland that's celebrated by the Scottish diaspora the world over. It's the anniversary of the birth of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns and was first held in 1801 by his close friends, five years after his death. Burns is a huge figure in Scottish culture.

His evocative body of work, written in a thick Scottish dialect called Lallans, includes Auld Lang Syne, Address to a Haggis, and Tam o' Shanter.

At the centre of the evening's festivities is the Burns supper where the guests are played into the room by bagpipers, speeches, stories and poems are recited, and a big Scottish meal is served up.

So what is the food that's often served? On a traditional menu, cock-a-leekie soup is served to start, followed by haggis, neeps and tatties, and then clootie dumpling or tipsy laird for dessert.

All of which is washed down with a wee dram or two – or three, four, half a bottle and whoops, the whole thing's gone. Here's what all that means.

What is cock-a-leekie soup?

You've probably worked it out already, but it's chicken and leek soup. Sometimes there are prunes in it, and barley to bulk it up.

What is haggis?

Haggis is basically a big offaly meatball stuffed into the lining of a sheep's stomach. Recipes vary, but it often has lamb lungs, heart and liver in it, as well as oats and lots of herbs and spices. It's usually boiled.

Can you get vegetarian haggis?

You certainly can, though probably not at most traditional Burns suppers. The BBC Good Food website has a decent recipe with mushrooms, red lentils, mashed borlotti beans, and ground nuts.

What is the Address to a Haggis?

It's one of Rabbie Burns's most famous poems and is traditionally read to the haggis before it's served. Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great Chieftain o' the Puddin-race!

What are neeps and tatties?

These are the sides for the haggis. Neeps is just mashed swede, sometimes with turnip added too. Tatties is mashed potatoes.

What is a clootie dumpling?

Clootie dumpling is a dense, treacly, fruity suet pudding cooked in a 'cloot' – a cloth in which it is wrapped before boiling.

What is a tipsy laird?

Tipsy laird is a Scottish take on an English trifle. Instead of sherry, it usually has whisky in it, and can have Scottish raspberries instead of strawberries.

What is a wee dram?

A glass of neat, decent scotch whisky.