The feast to celebrate Robert Burns has been an annual ritual for over 200 years. The ritual was started by close friends of Burns a few years after his death in 1796 as a tribute to his memory. The friends who gathered read a selection of his works and talked about the impact that Burns and his writing had on their lives. Since then Burns Night Suppers have traditionally been held on 25 January all over the world
The Fethiye event is now officially recognised by the Robert Burns World Federation, a literary society based in Ayrshire, Scotland. The organisation was founded in 1885 to educate the public about the life, poetry and works of the poet Robert Burns.
This year’s Burns Night celebration, organised by Sine and Colin Rous, Mustafa Şıkman and members of Fethiye Rotary Club, was held at the Glamour venue in Hisarönü where around 100 people gathered to celebrate the 261st anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.
Amongst the guest were local Scots, many dressed in traditional kilts and tartan, together with guests from around the world.
The evening was also attended by Yavuz Topateş (who works with the Fethiye Mayor in a consular role), his wife and Alasdair Hutton O.B.E who has been a journalist and broadcaster, Member of the European Parliament, and Councillor on Scottish Borders Council where he was Convener for nine years. He served in the Parachute Regiment TA and is a Member of the Royal Company of Archers.
Music was provided by Brian Forrest and Robin Waitt (The Fit Tappers Ceilidh Band), who travelled from Scotland to perform, and piper James Gray, now resident in Fethiye.
Piping the haggis
The opening speeches and “Selkirk Grace” were followed by “Piping in the haggis” and “Address to a Haggis” by Ewen Rae after which the audience joined in the toast to the haggis
The haggis was then returned to the kitchen for serving with traditional neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes).
Afterwards there were formal toasts to the “Immortal Memory” by Alasdair Hutton OBE, “Toast to the Lassies” by Caner Yıldırım and reply by Fidan Ay.
Certificates of appreciation were presented to those who had contributed to the success of the evening and a traditional Turkish kilim was presented to Mr Hutton by the President of the Rotary Club, Aslı Faralyalı.
Scottish dancing was led by Fethiye Scottish Dance Group followed by “The Sultans of the High Lands” and a selection of stirring pipe tunes from James Gray.
The evening also included a raffle and auction, the proceeds of which will go to the victims of the recent earthquake Elazığ.
Funding towards flight costs and provision of their world famous “Teacakes” were provided by Lord Tunnock and Tunnocks of Scotland, sponsors of this year’s event.
Excerpt from the speech by Alasdair Hutton
“I think we also owe a great debt of thanks to Tunnocks for their financial help and for the teacakes which are famous throughout Scotland and far beyond and which we have been privileged to enjoy tonight in your dessert. If I may borrow from the Bard.
Fair fa’ yer honest sonsie face, / Great chieftain of the teacake race! / Abune them a’ ye tak yer place, / A rare Scots treat, / Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace / That’s honey sweet.
The tea plate there you more than fill. / Marshmallow like a little hill. / Plus chocolate, you can bet it will. / Taste truly grand. / So thank you Tunnocks for the thrill./ A treat from old Scotland.”
A message from Alasdair Hutton O.B.E
“Robert Burns did not visit Turkey but he was a man of broad international vision and of humanity. He would have been heartened by the international gathering to celebrate his birthday in Fethiye in 2020. He would have noted that it would have perfectly embodied his vision “that man to man, the world o’er, shall brothers be for a’ that.”
The Fethiye gathering was a relaxed and relatively informal celebration of Burns’ life and the international appeal of his verses all these years after his death. The town and the Rotary Club can be proud that they have put both on the map of the international celebrations of Robert Burns’ life.”
A word from Sine and Colin
“Organising any event can be stressful and this Burns’ Night was no exception, however we have been humbled by the support from so many different sources. Glamour owner Selamattin Yılmaz and his team excelled in every area and met every challenge with a smile. The quality of the food and service ensured lots of happy guests. The bringing together of the two cultures was enhanced by the generosity of so many people and in particular, Lord Tunnock and Tunnocks of Scotland. It was their contribution that enabled us to provide the “Scottish” presence in the form of Mr Alasdair Hutton OBE and the Fit Tappers Ceilidh Band. The whole evening convinced us of the great bonding that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk first realised between the Turkish and Scottish nations and we hope that this continues. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who supported us and came along and enjoyed a fantastic evening. Particular thanks go to Norman Clark for stepping in at the last moment to ensure we had a wonderful pictorial memory of the event.“
Thank you to Norman Clark for the photographs.