How Did the New Year’s Song Auld Lang Syne Originate and What Does the Song and Poem Mean?

The tone and lyrics of Auld Lang Syne seem to capture perfectly the emotions involved in the passing of the fleeting accomplishments and losses of one calendar year coinciding with the rise of hope in a new one.

Auld tang syne is Scottish and literally means “old long since,” or, in modern language, simply “long ago.”

The song was written down by the poet Robert Burns, but he wasn’t the composer.

Burns heard the folk song being sung by an anonymous old man and copied it down before passing it on to become a ceremonial fixture of New Year’s Eve.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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