An Old Song for a New Year

An Old Song for a New Year

By Friday, all of our students will have safely arrived back in the UK for the start of the Spring term. We hope that you have enjoyed a great holiday and Happy New Year to you all.

As we welcomed 2016 last week, you may have sung a certain traditional tune this New Year’s Eve and asked ‘What exactly does ‘Auld Lang Syne’ mean?’ and ‘Why do the British sing this song on New Year’s Eve?’.

“Auld Lang Syne” was originally a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 that was later set to music. The phrase “auld lang syne” translates literally to “old long since” in English and means something similar to “times gone by.” Because of this, its traditionally sung to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight, complete with a traditional dance.

At Hogmanay, a New Year’s Eve celebration in Scotland, it is common practice that everyone joins hands with the person next to them to form a great circle around the dance floor. At the beginning of the last verse, everyone crosses their arms across their chest, so that the right hand reaches out to the neighbour on the left and vice versa. When the tune ends, everyone rushes to the middle, while still holding hands. When the circle is re-established, everyone turns under the arms to end up facing outwards with hands still joined.

In countries other than Scotland, the hands are often crossed from the beginning of the song at variance with Scottish custom. The Scottish practice was demonstrated by the Queen at the Millennium Dome celebrations for the year 2000. 

Though it is a great tradition in Britain, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is a song passed down to younger generations through word of mouth. This means that although the tune and the dance are very well known, the lyrics are rarely remembered correctly. Some verses are often forgotten or the words are changed, depending on which country you’re in at the time.

Luckily we have found the original verses to the song below. Are they as you remember them?

Auld Lang Syne

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup
and surely I’ll buy mine
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend
And give me a hand o’ thine
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Bright World Wishes all of our students, partners, parents, host families and drivers, health and happiness this new year. We thank you for all of your support and we hope that 2016 brings you luck and prosperity.


Posted on January 6th, 2016 @ 4:15 PM



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