Song Sets the Stage – Auld Lang Syne

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot”… these are the opening lyrics to the famous song Auld Lang Syne – but what does it mean?

The verse, written by legendary Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788, is traditionally sung at New Year’s gatherings in Scotland and around the world.

At the stroke of midnight, people come together to sing the tune as they bid farewell to the old year and welcome in the new. Here is everything you need to know about the song as you bring in the bells…

Auld Lang Syne literal meaning in English and what it’s all about

In Scots, Auld Lang Syne means “for the sake of old times” or “time gone by”. A more literal translation of auld lang syne would read as “old long since”. The song describes a pair of friends reminiscing and raising a drink for old time’s sake.

Why do we hold hands during Auld Lang Syne?

Millions of people around the world link hands when they bring in New Year and sing their hearts out to Auld Lang Syne.

Its origins as a Hogmanay tradition are said to come from freemasonry, according to researchers from the University of Edinburgh.

People would sing with their arms crossed and hands joined as a parting ritual at many Masonic lodges.

While the original is, of course, Scots verse, possibly the most recognisable version, and the ones most people sing, is the traditional English version