Many of us sing the traditional New Year’s song “Auld Lang Syne” as New Year’s Eve turns to New Year’s Day, but do most of us even know what it means? I’m going to be honest and say that for a long time I didn’t, because it was one of those things I just hadn’t bothered to find out.
Well, I finally got tired of not knowing, so I looked into it, and I’m here to share it with you. (But you probably knew already, because you’re smarter than I am, right?)
“Auld Lang Syne” is a song derived from a poem by Scottish poet Robert Burns. (Do check that link. There are even karaoke versions available there. This is serious business.)
The part of the song that is likely most familiar to you is this verse and the chorus:
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!”
“For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.”
This carols site explains that the words “Auld Lang Syne” […] “literally translate from old Scottish dialect meaning ‘Old Long Ago,’ and is about love and friendship in times past.” This speaks nicely to the new year’s tradition of hanging out with friends and popping something sparkling to drink to toast the turn of the old year into the new. This song focuses on old friends, and I have to admit that my favorite new year’s celebrations have been with my closest, oldest friends, and my family, who also fit that description.
Jimi Hendrix performed a version of “Auld Lang Syne” so typically outstanding that it’ll make you forget it even needs words:
Aretha Franklin and Billy Preston will knock your socks off with this rendition:
There are some Muppets ringing in the New Year, if you’re into that:
After the New Year’s shows are over this year, I have New Year’s Eve on deck and on demand for some late night brand-new-2014 movie watching. I spent one of my favorite New Year’s Eve weekends ever in and around Times Square, and I’m a sucker for its central place in the American experience of the holiday. New Year’s Eve does a great job of making Times Square the star location, a hub for all of the many story threads in this movie to come together to celebrate love, experience loss, and show how very important this holiday can be for all of us in marking the passage of time.
Lea Michele’s performance of “Auld Lang Syne” in the film is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard, and it is just the ticket for a beautiful evening in the brand new year with the ones you love. She sings all of the verses in translated modern English, and it’s worth a listen to learn the song’s true meaning for the next time you see it:
That’s probably next year, but it’s never too soon to be prepared. So, let’s toast to old long ago and for the new year. Music always makes that better.