10 things you never knew about haggis

Today is the birthday in 1759 of Robert Burns. To celebrate Robert Burns' birthday I shall follow a tradition said to have begun a few year after his death. We shall eat a haggis tonight or some time this week. That's if I can find one.

You may believe that a haggis is just a sheep's stomach stuffed with sheep's offal and oatmeal. Others may think differently as evidenced by this photo created by Wikimedia Commons User Starablazkova showing a wild haggis, apparently roaming near Loch Lomond.

There's not much time left to bag your haggis. The haggis hunting season ends today at 15.00 hours Greenwich Mean Time. Or so it does if you believe the Scotsman newspaper that promotes its annual haggis hunt and also debunks several widely believed myths about the haggis including the story that it is a sheep's stomach stuffed with sheep's offal and oatmeal.

I like haggis. It tastes much better than it looks. So, while I am out haggis hunting, you might like to ponder (thanks to the Scotsman) these published 'facts' about the beast.

  1. The correct plural of haggis is haggii, although under certain grammatical circumstances it can be haggises or even “wee yins”. The name Haggii comes from the Latin for “harried ones”.
  2. The Haggis Hunting season runs from when they hatch (30 November) until 25 January. The 31st of December is particularly anticipated by Haggis hunters as it is when great herds of Haggii migrate north for winter. The correct term for stalking a haggis is “havering”.
  3.  Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem “The Hunting Of The Snark” was originally called “The Hunting Of The Haggis” until he found out the Scottish beast actually existed.
  4. Seeing a live haggis is supposed to be a sign of imminent good fortune. Earl Nyaff of Uirsgeul reputedly encountered one on his way to Ayr races in 1817 and subsequently won £50. True, he was badly trampled by the winner and flogged for race fixing after being falsely accused by his own brother, but at least he made a tidy profit.
  5. An alcoholic drink derived from the haggis has yet to be invented, despite many centuries of intensive research.
  6. The haggis is unusual in that it is neither consistently nocturnal nor diurnal, but instead is active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular), with occasional forays forth during the day and night. 
  7. Haggis eggs are inedible, and can be easily confused with deer droppings. On the whole they are best avoided.
  8. Some myths say the spider watched by Robert the Bruce was trying to escape from a haggis foraging for food.
  9.  Haggis fur is waterproof but not shower-proof. 
  10. No-one has ever succeeded in breeding haggii in captivity.

It is true that Robert Burns wrote a poem called 'Address to a Haggis'. Most people only know the first 2 lines. Here's the whole of the 1st stanza with which you may address your haggis if you catch one, but the whole poem is much longer.
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o' the pudding race! 
Aboon them a' yet tak your place, 
Painch, tripe or thairm: 
Weel are ye' wordy o'a grace 
As lang's my arm.

Image Credit: Commons wikimedia 


  1. If they are "crepuscular" then perhaps they are related to that other crepuscular beaster, the Edible Dormouse, Glis Glis. Perhaps a big variety thereof?

  2. Interesting suggestion Archdruid Eileen. My new theory is that haggis prefer to be active at dusk rather than dawn i.e. they are 'verspertine'. On the other had they have been known to emerge by moonlight. Perhaps you 'Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley' have a special tea-lighting ceremony for this? Or haggis vespers?


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