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For Find Out Friday - What the Hell Do the Words of Auld Lang Syne Really Mean?


I haven’t watched When Harry Met Sally in a long time but there are two scenes that always stick in my mind.

The first is of course the one you are thinking about right now; the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene filmed in Katz’s Deli (http://bit.ly/2E8X8t1). I know when I visited in March 2012, I was sure to spot the sign signaling what table the actors were sitting at when that movie moment was filmed. 

The other is towards the end, when after actualizing their love for one another, the couple reunite at a New Year’s Eve party. It occurs after an emotional moment when Harry (Billy Crystal) decides to break the ice with his comedic charm, which is one of the great strengths of this movie.


The comments Harry makes in the scene above have always stuck with me. 

Why do we always hear Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve? What the hell are the words? And what are they trying to say?

Since this is the first Find Out Friday after the New Year I figured there was no better time to find out. 

Auld Lang Syne translates to “times gone by”. It is of Scottish origin by author Robert Burns who took pen to paper in 1788 and sent the poem / folk song to the Scots Musical Museum for preservation.

The song itself was not created by Burns as it had been around for ages. It is thought that the song and meaning was common of the time but Burns was the first one to popularize it. 

The original song had a different sound than what we are familiar with today. Over time it has been changed to a different melody as generations, and the world, have gone on to make it their own.

Auld Lang Syne is still sung in Scotland before midnight. When the time is right, everyone gathers in a circle and holds hands. During the final verse of the chorus, everyone crosses their arms across their bodies so that their left hand is over the hand of the person to their right. At the end of the song everyone rushes to the middle, still holding one another’s hands. 

In case you want to start practicing for next year here are the words:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

Chorus:
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.

Chorus

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.

Chorus

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

Chorus

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

Chorus

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And long, long ago.

Chorus

And for long, long ago, my dear
For long, long ago,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For long, long ago
And surely youll buy your pint-jug!
And surely I'll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For long, long ago.

Chorus

We two have run about the hills
And pulled the daisies fine;
But we've wandered manys the weary foot
Since long, long ago.

Chorus

We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
Since long, long ago.

Chorus

And there's a hand, my trusty friend!
And give us a hand of yours!
And we'll take a deep draught of good-will
For long, long ago.


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