Friday, December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

When I was a kid, my parents always let me stay up to celebrate the New Year.  We would eat snacks and watch TV and at the stroke of midnight we would go out on the front porch and bang on Mom's pans with a spoon, blow on noise makers and make a general ruckus to wish the World a Happy New Year.

Afterward we all returned inside and inevitably hear strains of Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, the band with the really annoying saxaphone section, playing Auld Lang Syne.

I did not have a clue as to what an Auld Lang Syne was or what it meant. In fact I envisioned auld lang syne as the old sign hanging over Lang’s Pet Store in downtown Cincinnati.

Old Lang's Sign
At the time I really did not care. But as you get older you get curious about these sort of things. Of course this may have been something I should have learned in school had I had been paying attention.

So I have learned several things about this auld Scottish song, like the word auld is auld Scottish for old.

 In fact some folks sing, “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?”

I always thought it was written by Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet. Although he had something to do with it, he was not the author.

Robert "Bobs-yer-uncle" Burns
Burns had collected old folk tales and poems.  He states he got this song from an old (or auld) man.  He wrote it down and sent it to the Scots Musical Museum.  The tune became very popular and a tradition was started that it be sung to mark the end of the new year.

The phrase auld lang syne, translates to old long since or old times past.

Essentially it asks, should those we have known be forgotten and never thought of again?  We will remember them, drink a toast to them for sake of old times past.

While the first verse is for those we remember, the seldom sung second verse is for those who are in our life right now.

 "And there's a hand my trusty friend and give a hand of thine,  we'll take a right goodwill draught for auld lang syne."

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