The History and Meaning of Auld Lang Syne

There are lots of songs we associate with different times of the year, Thriller for Halloween, All I want for Christmas for well, Christmas. But there is an older song that is synonymous with New Year; AULD LANG SYNE.

• What does it mean though?

• Why do we sing it at New Year?

Auld Lang Syne comes from a Scottish poem by Robert Burns in 1788, but the poem itself is based on am even older song. It is believed to mean:

Days gone by

Long, long ago

Times long gone

For the sake of old times (believed to be the literal translation of the first line of Robert Burns’ poem.

Auld Lang Syne isn’t just say at the New Year, it is a song that is common at funerals, farewells, graduations and any event where you are wanting to say a goodbye to something/someone.

In a way, the song is asking a very important question. Should old acquaintances be forgotten, and never brought to mind? If we sing this at New Year, we are asking ourselves should the journey we made through the year be remembered? Should what has been, be left in the past? I think its meaning leads more towards for the sake of old times, treat yourself and others with kindness. Be kind to the past self, and be kind to who you will become

I mentioned that 1) it was a Scottish poem set to an older Scottish song. 2) is used at different events like funerals and ceremonial farewells. It’s sang at the end of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, it is sung at the last night of the Proms, and in Scotland at weddings.

The Scots have a very particular way of combining the sing and a traditional dance, which involves standing in a circle and holding hands. At certain parts of the song, they move in a particular way… here in England, we hold one another’s hands crossed right from the start.

What do you think the song means??

Have you sung this at New Year, or other event?

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