What "Auld Lang Syne" Actually Means
Drinks swaying, arms crossed, and fingers intertwined, revelers have been joining together to sing "Auld Lang Syne" on New Year's Eve for centuries. It's a familiar tune and an even more familiar scene, but when it comes to the lyrics of the old Scottish song, most people are clueless. In fact, music historians often refer to it as the most famous "song that nobody knows."
Well, that's about to change.
The song was first put to paper, in its earliest form, in 1788 by Scottish poet Robert Burns. Moved by the old saying "auld lang syne," Burns was inspired to write a poem. He reportedly embellished the ballad with verses about drinking, and in no time, it became a part of Scottish New Year celebrations. And when Scottish people emigrated across the world, they took the song with them.
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Now here's the important part. According to Reader's Digest, the phrase "auld lang syne" literally translates to "old long since," which essentially means, "days gone by."
Keep that in mind the next time someone starts in with "should old acquaintance be forgot…" and replace "auld lang syne" with "days gone by" in your head. The whole song with start making sense. Just don't be surprised if you get a little misty eyed though.