Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year and Why the Heck do We Sing That Song Anyway?

“Here's a toast to the future, a toast to the past, and a toast to our friends, far and near. May the future be pleasant; the past a bright dream; may our friends remain faithful and dear.” – Anonymous

Originally written by Robert Brown, a Scottish poet, Auld Lang Syne is a Scottish poem turned song that loosely translates to mean "times gone by," or "old times." It's used as a song to celebrate endings and new beginnings, such as at the stroke of midnight on the new year, but also at the end of parties, at graduations, funerals, and other events.

It was probably a tradition that was carried over into the United States by Scottish immigrants, but really became associated with New Years apparently when Guy Lombardo, a Canadian born musician, first broadcast it on his New Years Eve radio show in 1929. The New Years Eve broadcasts with his Royal Canadian band quickly became an American tradition.

The first verse, which is frankly about the only part most folks really know, simply speaks to how can we not but remember our friends and the days gone by with them. The next verses sort of expand on that, which when paired with the old Scottish custom of joining hands, make a little more sense. Everybody forms a circle and at the beginning crosses their arms across their chest, taking the hand of their neighbor. When the song ends, they all rush to the center together, and while still holding hands turns to face the outward part of the circle, while still holding hands.

The hardest part of the original lyrics is understanding some of the language - here's an Americanized translation.

Auld Lang Syne
{English translation}
by Robert Burns

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and days of old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since days of auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


new years parties

Source: Wikipedia, Associated Content


  1. Happy New Year Mary....

    I don't like New Years Eve, and this song for some reason makes me cry and feel sad..I am a hello person, not a good bye person..even as rough as this year was and I am glad to see it go, you feel as though you are leaving something behind......Here's toasting you to a better year for us all....

  2. Happy New Year Ms. Mary. You have already fulfilled one of my hopes for 2011....and that is to learn something new everyday. I had no idea there were even other verses to this song. Thank you for the info, the toast and may you have the best, most properous and wonderful year thus far. The Olde Bagg, Linda

  3. Happy New Year Faith and Linda! May we all see health, happiness, prosperity and forward progress in our lives!

  4. Happy New Year Mary! Great post too. I like so many others had no idea of the origins or the words of this traditional song!


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