Looking Back On Days of "Auld Lang Syne"
01-01-2023 by Katie Marzullo
It happens every year, and it might have happened to you last night -- The clock strikes Twelve on New Year's Eve, signifying the start of a new year, and suddenly you find yourself with a bunch of strangers' arms around your shoulders and roped into singing "Auld Lang Syne" at the top of your lungs.
We sing it every year, but most of us probably have no idea what it is we're singing (and are often too drunk to care). "Auld Lang Syne" is not even English! Well, at least, not English as we know it. It's actually Scottish, and it means "old long since." Though we sing it to ring in the New Year, it should perhaps be more appropriate to sing it before the big ball in Times Square drops, as the song is not so much about new beginnings as it is about old(auld) endings. This would also explain the song's rather melancholy melody.
The song was written way back in 1788 by Scottish poet Robert Burns... Well, to be accurate, it wasn't so much "written" as it was "a bunch of random phrases from different sources slapped together." It actually has five verses, but we usually only sing the first plus the chorus. Some ambitious and erudite folks occasionally throw the second verse in there, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone outside Gerard Butler's birthplace that knows the entire song.
Even still, it's a lovely little ditty, and the opening verse -- a pondering question about the nature of leaving the old behind to make room for the new -- is innately contemplative. "Should old(auld) acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old/auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of old(auld) lang syne?" In other words, in order to make a new beginning, should the past be completely left behind? Or is there room in our fresh start for those old familiar faces? That's up to the individual, I suppose! Whichever choice you make this New Year, make sure to do right by you!
In the meantime, here's a hoppin' rendition of the holiday classic sung by the Queen of Holiday Classics herself, Ms. Mariah Carey:
Happy New Year, everyone!!! Make it count!