Scotland Homecoming

EDINBURGH, Scotland — Scottish poet Robert Burns gave the English-speaking world some of its most famous sayings and sentiments, including the New Year’s favorite “Auld Lang Syne.”

Now, on the 250th anniversary of his birth, the government hopes worldwide interest in the poet will create a tourism boom. As part of the celebration, the tourism industry has launched Homecoming Scotland 2009 to attract visitors with Scottish roots from around the world, as well as those who are just curious. The schedule of some 300 events includes a huge gathering of the clans in Edinburgh in July.

Burns’ political radicalism, romantic verse and use of the Scots dialect have made him a heroic figure to many Scots.

“Burns is the inspiration behind our yearlong celebration of some of Scotland’s great contributions to the world: golf, whisky, great minds and innovations, our rich culture, wonderful heritage and of course, Robert Burns himself,” said tourism minister Jim Mather.

The Scottish diaspora dwarfs Scotland’s population of just over 5 million. More than 4.8 million Americans reported Scottish ancestry in the 2000 census, and more than 4 million Canadians also claim Scottish roots.

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