24 October 2019 - 25 Tishri 5780 - כ"ה תשרי ה' אלפים תש"פ
Kosher Burns Night in Hong Kong hits a milestone! E-mail

Now celebrating 10 years of hosting an annual Burns Night, Hongs Kong’s Jewish community toasted 18thcentury Scottish poet Robert Burns with a traditional Burns Night Dinner on 22 January.

The sumptuous four-course Scottish dinner with fine singlemalt whisky tastings and much more was held in the King David Room at the Hong Kong Jewish Community Centre.

Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 in Ayrshire, Scotland, and was regarded as the national poet of Scotland. Burns Night suppers are traditionally held near his birthday to celebrate his life. His legacy globally is quite remarkable and impressive, reaching far and wide and into the consciousness of some of the world’s most well-known people. American President Abraham Lincoln had a lifelong admiration for the work of Burns, and pop star Michael Jackson set some of the bard’s poems to music.

After Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, Robert Burns has more statues dedicated to him around the world than any other non-religious figure. Although best known as a poet, Burns actually wrote and collected almost double the number of songs than poems. John Steinbeck’s classic 1937 novel, Of Mice and Men, took its name from a line in the Burns poem To a Mouse – “The best laid schemes o’ mice an men / Gang aft agley.”

Probably his most popular song, Auld Lang Syne, is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the top-three most popular songs in the English language.

The dinner event has now become a permanent fixture amongst community members and visitors in Hong Kong. The annual gathering as ever was organised and hosted by Richard Winston. Jewish Times Asia asked Richard Winston how the inaugural event was started. “Our previous resident rabbi in Hong Kong, Rabbi Martin van den Bergh, had a friend who did a whisky tasting event in Hong Kong a few times. He came especially from London to do it. He then asked me to run one as I was living here. I did one and suggested a Burns Night following that," recalled Richard.

At the inaugural event back in 2009, a CD of Scottish music was all that was available, but this year the melodic sound of the bagpipes played by Cary Chung of the Red Guards Pipes and Drums echoed around the Jewish Community Centre.

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