What does “Auld Lang Syne” mean, anyway?

I think it’s funny that the official (by general consensus) New Years song in the United States of America is something that most Americans don’t understand, and can only sing three or four lines from, and then mutter the rest.

This is a Scottish folk tune that dates back as far as 1677 (probably earlier) that is sprinkled with old Gaelic, and as far as most people can tell, is about “Old Lang Signs.”

Whatever that means. No one cares … it’s generally sung when you’re three sheets to the wind.

Curious, I had to research this, and it turns out the song, in a nutshell, means, “Should we forget old friends?  No.  For as time goes by, we’ll all drink a cup of kindness yet.”  It goes on to sing about even though you may be far away from old friends, at least you’re all in a pub somewhere, drinking to each other at the same time.

In 1677 they didn’t have telephones.  Instead they used widespread synchronized drinking as a sort of telepathic way to reach out to each other.  You sat at a pub and drank to old friends and knew in your heart that at that very second they were doing the same, drinking to you.

So in the spirit of that, as the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve, I will be raising a bottle and drinking to all my family and friends.  I wish for you a happy new year!  Let’s defy the doom and gloom news media and make it a wonderful year for everyone.

For the curious, here’s the actual lyrics to the original authentic version of Auld Lang Syne:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne ? 

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

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
And surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot,
Sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
And gie’s a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
For auld lang syne.