It’s nearly the end of what Robert Burns called “Januar’s cauld blast”, and haggis is briefly about to become the nation’s favourite dish.
Thursday is Burns Night, and some of the best celebrations are set to take place in or very near to Falkirk.
For anyone who hasn’t been to one, the evening typically includes plenty of exuberant speeches, a recitation, the piping in of the haggis, and plenty of whisky - or if you’re driving or teetotal it could be “the other national drink”.
We can’t know what Burns himself would have made of the unique commemoration staged in his honour, but he’d surely be pleased that he, out of all the noted Scots poets of the late 18th century, has been singled out for a special sort of immortality.
He probably (we can guess) wouldn’t even mind former Makar (Scottish poet laureate) Liz Lochhead complaining he was the Weinstein of his day (a claim hotly rebutted by a noted Burns scholar in a recent Scotsman article).
Whatever his sins, and he never tried to pretend he was perfect, Burns was gregarious, had a terrific sense of humour, and enjoyed plenty of lively company.
Falkirk, then or now, would definitely be his kind of town.
There being no budget hotel chains in Rabbie’s day a journey around the country meant plenty of overnight stays in inns - that is, pubs with rooms.
Probably his best-known pub visit was to the Globe Inn in Dumfries, where he famously inscribed a love poem on the window for the benefit of a young lady he wanted to get to know much better.
So it’s arguably appropriate that some of the best Burns Nights aren’t necessarily in public halls, but in pubs.
Falkirk bar Findlays reckons it can offer the perfect antidote to January with its Burns Night on Thursday, with all the must-have ingredients of a classic night along with poems and songs - plus a hearty three course meal (check venue for prices, etc).
Behind the Wall has a full Burnsian line-up, which includes one of the country’s best-known after-dinner speakers and the lady who has “world champion” status for her recitation of Tam o’Shanter.
The Corbie Inn in Bo’ness is among other venues vying for a slice of the action, with music from Ellie & Co - and “tickets going fast”.
Or, if you fancy an evening out of town in luxurious surroundings, you could head for Stirling Castle, where for £2,100 for a table for ten (plus VAT) comedian Des Clarke, and a full pipe band, are among the lavish entertainment on offer.
If none of that appeals, a humble but tasty haggis supper from any of the area’s fish and chip shops may suffice - it’s the thought that counts.