Robert Burns Evening, at Alison and Maurice’s

I’m sure you have never thought about organizing an… Eminescu evening at home. A few years ago, we had the pleasant surprise of being invited at Alison and Maurice’s place (in Timisoara), a lovely couple from Scotland, for celebrating their national poet Robert Burns’ Day.  It was a wonderful evening, full of emotion and admiration for people with a culture so different from ours who, far from their home, prepared an event for celebrating their national poet.

Alison told us that before coming to Timisoara they had spent a few years in Sweden and then another few years in Germany. There lived several Scottish families, invitations for the Burns evening were sent a long time before, and people crowded to get invited to certain families, as they were organizing more spectacular evenings, with more important and more talented guests.

Alison and Maurice are probably the only Scottish family living in Timisoara, so the other participants were a family from London  (Carol and John), a gentleman from  Germany (Peter), two gentlemen from France (Fred and Mario) and a few Romanian ladies (Moni, Anna and I). Maurice waited for us dressed in his beautiful kilt, the house was decorated with holiday lights, wonderful flavors were coming from the kitchen and the festive table was glowing…this is how they pay honor to Robert Burns, who played an essential role in the cultivation of Scottish language over time, who had a major contribution to the preservation of their national identity and whose poems are known by all of them.

Sitting around the table, we were invited to listen to some of the most beautiful poems of Burns (1759-1796), among which: “Scots Wha Hae” (that for a long time was considered a sort of unofficial anthem of the country) “A Red, Red Rose”; “A Man’s A Man for A’ That”; “To a Louse”; “To a Mouse”; “The Battle of Sherramuir”; “Tam o’ Shanter”; “Ae Fond Kiss”. I must admit that the listening test was difficult for us, due to the many unknown words, but our hosts’ acting was compensatory, as it was very, very impressive.

It was even more difficult when we were also asked to read one of Burns’ poems… As they are English teachers, Moni and Anna made it through somehow, but the rest of us hoped  to be spared from this test …and we were, as Alison realized we wouldn’t come through.

Dinner was traditional, absolutely delicious and our hosts’ hospitality was exceptional.

In order to thank them for a lovely Robert Burns evening, after almost one year, we invited Alison and Carol (as Maurice was at work) at a show of the Merlin Theater: “Luceafărul” (The Light). It was a wonderful afternoon, the actors enacted in a very sensitive way the story of our national poet, the ladies were touched and …you won’t believe it, they came at the show well prepared: they had looked for and printed out “Luceafărul” in English, so that they may understand the show.

Thank you, Alison and Maurice! Thank you, Carol and  John!