One of the few times a year, bagpipers are guaranteed a job if they desire and the only gig all year I believe we are truly respected and welcomed by the harshest of music critics. I always enjoy piping in the haggis to A Man's A Man For A That and piping other loved tunes. Did you know that there is another day everyone recites a poem of his? It's New Years Day when people sing Auld Lang Syne.
The past couple years I have piped a private event in St. Petersburg, Florida and have enjoyed it as the hosts invite those without much knowledge of Rabbie, Scotland, bagpipes or haggis (which a lack of haggis knowledge is a good thing). Scotland's Favorite Son was an advocate of his history and preserving a small piece of it within his works. As in his poem, Scots Wae Hae:
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!
Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power--
Chains and slavery!
Those are just two stanzas and you can see the rest online but you get a quick sense of what he is speaking of, especially if you've seen Braveheart (though a very historically inaccurate movie). Or here in Address to a Haggis:
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,