Auld Lang Syne

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Happy New Year!

Whether this is a time for reflection and resolutions, you’re getting ready to enjoy a great celebration with family or friends, or you’re just looking forward to a veritable feast of bowl games, may this be a great start to a happy and healthy 2006.

In the English speaking world, it’s kind of hard to think of New Year’s without including a wee bit of Scotland in the festivities. After all, what would midnight be without the singing of Auld Lang Syne?

Since Scotland is one of my husband’s and my favorite places, I thought I’d share with you some history behind the New Year’s observance there.

As you may know, the church in Scotland and England put a damper on the celebration of Christmas beginning around the time of the Reformation. In Scotland, this “anti-tradition” of sorts lasted for quite some time.

In fact, until as recently as the 1960s, Christmas was a normal working day for most Scots!

The festival surrounding New Year’s, consequently, is the one with the longer and richer tradition. Hogmanay, on December 31st, was when family and friends paid visits to one another and exchanged presents. It’s still observed today – the Hogmanay festival in Edinburgh is the largest in the country and bills itself as the world’s best New Year’s celebration!

Back to Auld Lang Syne.

This very old Scottish song likely dates back to the 1600s. Poet Robert Burns penned the rendition we know today, which was first published in 1796.

In America, Guy Lombardo is the fellow who turned the playing of that song into a New Year’s ritual. If you’re old enough to remember Lombardo, you know that his name is synonymous with that tune! He and his band began a tradition that lasted until 1976 by playing Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight in 1929 at a Roosevelt Hotel New Year’s Eve party in New York.

A lot of people joke that Auld Lang Syne is the most popular tune to which nobody knows the lyrics!!

And what does it mean, anyway?

Literally translated, Auld Lang Syne means Old Long Since….or “the good old days.”

So you can dazzle your friends at your New Year’s party when the clock strikes twelve, here are the lyrics to the first verse:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

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