Only 100 people will be allowed into Times Square, New York, to watch the annual dropping of the crystal crusted New Year ball. They also get to sing Auld Lang Syne. Others will follow up virtually.
I first encountered this melodious song over twenty years ago while teaching in a primary school I owned. The Auld Lang Syne was part of a compilation of children’s nursery songs recorded on a VCD. Albeit, a pirated version! Aside from the catchy tune, I and the other teaching staff members never understood what the song was all about. We couldn’t grab the weird juxtaposition of its odd English and Scottish composition. The lyrics of the first stanza are written below:
Should old acquaintance be forgotten,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgotten,
and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
Who or what is ‘auld lang syne?
The most accurate plain English interpretation of the Auld Lang Syne’s famous title is ‘Old long since’, or ‘For the sake of old times’.
The song begins by throwing a rhetorical question: Is it right that old times be forgotten? The answer given is a call to remember long-standing friendships.
The “singable” English version given here keeps the Scots phrase “auld lang syne” rather than translating it as “long long ago”. That explains our utter confusion in comprehending the song. We still force-fed the song to children in the school. Truly, I still can’t forget those awkward year’s of teaching a song you barely understood.
The words of Auld Lang Syne were penned by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788, but Burns himself revealed at the time of composing it that he had collected the words after listening to the verse of an old man on his travels, claiming that his version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ marked the first time it had been formally written down.
However, an earlier ballad by James Watson, named ‘Old Long Syne’, dates as far back as 1711, and use of the title phrase can be found in poems from as early as the 17th century, specifically works by Robert Ayton and Allan Ramsay.
When do people sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’?
‘Auld Lang Syne’ is most famously sung by revelers at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve every year. Certainly, this year will turn out differently.
The tradition began in Scotland, where Hogmanay would be marked by the singing of the song while singers join hands to form a large circle.
Apart from New Year’s Eve, the song is also often sung at Burns Night celebrations, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, at passing out parades for the Royal Navy, and many other military bodies across the world.
Funny How Auld Lang Syne Asks Whether To Forget 2020
Should we forget the horrors of 2020? Auld Lang Syne refers to an old acquaintance and after a year of coronavirus, should we take a cup of kindness and cheer our way to a new year? The truth is that, as a world, we may not need to be reminded of our horrific experience in 2020 because the COVID19 isn’t going away so soon.
Millions of people around the world are preparing for the strangest New Year’s Eve ever. The typical lockdown, restrictions, and curfews are now in place in an attempt to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Already, governments of most countries have sounded the alarm of a new variant of the coronavirus despite headways made in the production of vaccines.
Here in Lagos, Nigeria, governor Sanwo-Olu and the NCDC have threatened to persecute anyone that flouts curfew time of 12 am and 4 am. That means no cross overnight. A tradition upheld by churchgoers has just been thrown a wet towel right at the face. Most church goers are not pleased with this development. But the government has insisted on strict compliance with the curfew in order to prevent the spread of a new wave of COVID19.
In the UK, the government has warned people planning to celebrate New Year’s Eve to desist from partying, instead adopt social distancing for the time being.
France has deployed 100,000 police and gendarmes to clamp down on parties, gatherings, and the traditional torching of vehicles on 31 December.
The popular New Year’s Eve ball will still be dropped in Times Square at midnight on 31 December, but, unlike other New Year’s Eve, it’s descent will be witnessed by empty streets. New York City authorities have declared that Times Square will be shut to the public except for a hundred lucky people. The alternative, of course, is virtual, via online streaming or on television.
Same stories abound all around the world. New Year’s Eve will be historically muted as countries brace up to reduce the impact of COVID19.
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