Burns Night was on 25th January this year. It is every year. It is Rabbie Burns’ birthday.
But I am allegedly going over to the Ukraine for a Burns Night charity event in Kiev – or in Kyiv, depending on your spelling - on 9th March.
Kiev was the Russian-approved spelling in the Soviet era. So, obviously, since independence, the officially-approved Ukrainian spelling is Kyiv, just to be different.
But this does not explain why Burns Night is being celebrated on 9th March.
Last year in Kyiv, it was celebrated on 31st March.
The explanation is that it is being organised by a canny Scotsman.
Stuart McKenzie owns a company in the Ukraine which handles events, PR, marketing, training, e-commerce and research. He also owns hotels and restaurants. And he is also the late Scottish comedian Jimmy Logan’s stepson.
“I organise the Burns Night event with other Kyiv Lions Club members as part of our contribution of time to the club,” Stuart tells me. “Most Kyiv business people are away from 20th December to the 15th of January. So it’s therefore better for me to push the date of Burns Night forward to give me more time to speak to these companies and get sponsorship support. It simply means we can raise more money. Also pipers and entertainers are a lot cheaper to bring over to Kyiv if I’m not competing with the 25th January date.”
Canny and successful.
Sponsors for this year’s Burns Night in Kyiv include Coca Cola, Hyatt Regency, Radisson and Ukraine International Airlines.
“It’s our 18th anniversary this year,” Stuart tells me, “and, over the last eight years, we’ve raised over $700,000 for Kyiv Lions Club projects.”
This year, the Burns Night celebration also coincides with a Women’s Day Celebration.
I suspect Rabbie Burns would have approved.
Stuart certainly knows how to put on a party.
Part of the entertainment on Burns Night in Kyiv will be the Red Hot Chilli Pipers: