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By Amy Cassaniti

Four - three - two - one. HAPPY NEW YEAR! Quite soon we will all bid farewell to 2021 and welcome 2022. It is a time of joy and sadness. Sadness over the year that HAS been, but joy for the year that MAY be. Following the stroke of midnight, many will spontaneously break into song, specifically, “Auld Lang Syne.”

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?[a]

Chorus: For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Auld lang syne? Are those even real words? Yes. But they are not English words. Auld lang syne meaning “old long since” are from the ancient Scots-language. The lyrics taken from a poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. But why this song, and what does the song have to do with New Year’s Eve?

Burns poem is really a conversation. Two friends are drinking together and thinking about the old days or the “auld” days. The primary speaker in the poem asks the question should we forget the friends and times of the past? And the answer is no. For the sake of friendship and togetherness and shared experiences, the speaker declares that “auld” times and acquaintances should be remembered, as the chorus suggests, with kindness. The poem ends with the speaker encouraging his chum to take a “good-will draught” and toast to good friends and good times.

Now as for New Year’s Eve. Well, in 1929, Guy Lombardo, who was the conductor of the vastly popular Royal Canadians dance band, hosted a New Year’s Eve radio broadcast. It was the custom of his band to end their concerts with the traditional Scot’s language song. And the tradition stuck long after the Royal Canadians stopped being the featured New Year’s Eve band. By then, the American public was accustomed to singing the song, and the tradition stuck.

“For the sake of old times.” As the brink of a new year approaches, old times and old friends really do come to mind. The change over of years is a chance to look backward and forward. We think - what went right; what would we change; what do we hope for a new year – and as we think through all these circumstances, we naturally think about the friends and family who have been with us. Robert Burns is right. We should not forget “auld” acquaintances. Midnight New Year’s Eve is the perfect time for that “good-will draught” and reminiscence.

Click on the link below to listen to a complete rendition of “Auld Lang Syne”


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