Auld Lang Syne Meaning



11 Mar 2021

Auld Lang Syne Meaning

People usually wonder about the truth about the Auld Lang Syne meaning. We all grew up believing that singing Auld Lang Syne means looking back at the past before celebrating a new year. The song almost always comes up after Christmas. “Auld Lang Syne” became somewhat of a sign that another New Year approaches. But, did you ever wonder about the origin of the famed song? How did it become the usual song greeting every New Year?

Now, you don’t need to fret any longer. We found the simplest way to explain the Auld Lang Syne meaning without sounding too festive. Back then, people didn’t pair “Auld Lang Syne” with any holiday. Plus, you’d be surprised to know that the one who received credit for writing the song heard it from someone else. If you want to know more, just go ahead and read what we discovered about the classic New Year jingle.

Story Behind The Famed New Year Song, “Auld Lang Syne”

New Year celebrating, auld lang syne meaning
Source: Geetanjal Khanna on Unsplash

To learn the origin of the Auld Lang Syne meaning, you must first look closely at the song itself. In 1788, Scottish poet Robert Burns received credit for writing the lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne.” However, Burns soon admitted that he only compiled the verse he heard from an old man. He just got credit for formally writing it all down.

Unbeknownst to many, James Watson composed an earlier ballad named “Old Long Syne” in 1711. Sounds familiar, right? It gets even more intriguing. In the 17th century, Robert Ayton and Allan Ramsay wrote poems with the same title phrase. All this proves that no one has concrete evidence as to who wrote and composed “Auld Lang Syne.” Learning about the famed song’s meaning proves the only feat we can accomplish nowadays.

In 1929, the USA tuned in to “Auld Lang Syne” on the radio. Singing the song in the country became part of the New Year tradition thanks to the annual New Year’s TV broadcast of Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians. He gained the title “Mr. New Year’s Eve” for showcasing a festive performance with his big band tunes. They always played “Auld Lang Syne” during their annual program.  His broadcast maintained high viewership for decades.

Back then, almost every television set showed Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians every December 31. However, Lombardo eventually competed against Dick Clarke’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” which attracted younger viewers. Because of Lombardo’s annual broadcast, most Americans greet New Year’s Eve by singing “Auld Lang Syne.” As centuries went by, the USA holds an immense Western influence that spreads to various countries. With this, the song made its way to various New Year traditions across the world.

See Why People Are Puzzled With The Auld Lang Syne Lyrics

Before the approach of every New Year, carolers usually sing the famed “Auld Lang Syne” like this:

“Auld Lang Syne”

First verse:
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?

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

Second verse:
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Third verse:
We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

Fourth verse:
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

Fifth verse:
And there’s a hand,
my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

The modern English translation goes like this:

“Time Goes By”

Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And days of long ago!

For times gone by, my dear
For times gone by,
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For times gone by.

We two have run about the hillsides
And pulled the daisies fine,
But we have wandered many a weary foot
For times gone by.

We two have paddled (or waded) in the stream
From noon until dinner time,
But seas between us broad have roared
Since times gone by.

And there is a hand, my trusty friend,
And give us a hand of yours,
And we will take a goodwill drink (of ale)
For times gone by!

And surely you will pay for your pint,
And surely I will pay for mine!
And we will take a cup of kindness yet
For times gone by!

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Learn how the New Year Song goes beyond the Auld Lang Syne translation

By now, you probably interpreted the Auld Lang Syne meaning. Upon reading the English translation, we can’t help but feel puzzled about the song’s story. It doesn’t seem to be connected to New Year or any holiday. However, Auld Lang Syne still made its way into various New Year’s Eve traditions.

Lines such as “We twa hae run about the braes / and pou’d the gowans fine” comes as a mix of English and gibberish to most people. A lot of people still don’t know that Auld Lang Syne came from the 18th century Scottish language. They just sing along whenever it comes on the radio every New Year’s Eve. Not a lot of people know how Scottish culture made its way to the USA’s beloved holiday season.

Scots famously celebrate Hogmanay instead of calling the holiday New Year’s Eve. They would celebrate their beloved event for a few days beginning on December 31. Throughout history, Scotland did not celebrate Christmas. They put out all their efforts to commemorate Hogmanay instead. With this, some would say that the strength of the Scottish culture’s love for New Year brought about Auld lang Syne’s fame.

So, what is the REAL Auld Lang Syne Meaning in the Scottish language?

Source: Weston MacKinnon on Unsplash

Translators roughly determined that “Auld Lang Syne” means “Time Goes By” in today’s modern English. The song title’s literal translation is “Old Long Since.” With this, you probably noticed how “Time Goes By” makes more sense.

In case you didn’t know, the Scottish speak English with an accent just like the British and the Irish. However, they also use Scottish Gaelic from time to time. The somewhat rare language lost its meaning due to the Scottish people’s struggle of securing independence. Because of this, no one can confidently identify the Scottish dialect used in “Auld Lang Syne.”

Discover the Festive and Not So Festive Auld Lang Syne History

When Harry Met Sally
Source: Flickr

If you watched “When Harry Met Sally,” you probably noticed the film’s use of the Auld Lang Syne meaning. Meg Ryan’s character mentions that the famed New year song revolves around the meeting of old friends. The whole film’s plot centered around those iconic lines.

To fully understand Auld Lang Syne’s meaning, you must set it aside from the holiday linked to it. The gist of the song centers on the much-awaited reunion of old friends. That’s it. It doesn’t make sense as a New Year’s eve song but we can’t do anything about it. However, you can put the song’s story in a different perspective to relate it to the holidays.

Try to see how old friends reuniting relates to celebrating New Year’s eve. The holidays revolve around families coming together to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Thus, old friends can also reunite to celebrate the festive season. The writer of Auld Lang Syne did not think of the holidays while writing the poem-turned-song. The years that went by changed everything.

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