For Auld Lang Syne

Happy New Year, Friends!

Wow, I simply cannot believe 2018 is almost here.  In less than 48 hours, the first of you will celebrate the strike of midnight and the rest of us will follow as the waves of time roll across the dark, deep sea.

A new year.  A new beginning.  A fresh start.  A blank page beckoning to be written upon.  What will you write on your page this year?

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In my great love affair with Scotland, I learned something that I would like to share with you.  If I were to quiz you on the name of the song sung on New Year’s Eve the world over, you would probably tell me it’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’.  And you would be correct.  But does anyone (aside from our awesome friends-the Brits) know to whom the song is attributed?  I never really gave it much thought, but how strange that so many of us across the globe ring in the new year singing the exact same tune and yet the majority of us likely do not know where it originated or even understand what the words are all about.  It reminds me of the humorous dialogue exchange between Billy Crystal’s and Meg Ryan’s characters at the end of one of my favorite movies, ‘When Harry Met Sally’.


Harry: [about Auld Lang Syne] What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?

Sally: Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.

-from ‘When Harry Met Sally’, 1989


Roughly translated “for old times’ sake” or “days gone by”, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is nothing if not all about preserving old friendships, raising a glass, and looking back with nostalgia over the events of the year.  It is a song steeped in sentimentality that has the power to momentarily bind us together in remembrance, in the celebration of the moment, and in hope for the future.  Joy, kinship and comaraderie…even melancholy and regret…these are just a few of the feelings I think this song has the power to invoke.  Thus is the great power of music.

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I challenge you to replace the words ‘auld lang syne’ with ‘for old times’ sake’ when you read the lyrics (bottom of post).  It will take on a brand new meaning.

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