What does Auld Lang Syne Mean?

"What does Auld Lang Syne mean? People from all around the world sing this song every Hogmanay or New Year and ask that very question. They sing it, they mime it, they try to imitate the words, or they just hum it. But they often haven't a clue what the words mean.

If they do understand the first verse and chorus they're completely lost by other words. I've been asked to 'translate' this song, and while I'm not an expert, here is my understanding of it.

It was written by our most famous Poet, Rabbie Burns and grew in popularity as the last song to be sung when an evening party broke up. This developed into the group of people standing up in a circle, each one crossing his arms in front of his chest and clasping his neighbours' hands to left and right. While singing, all arms were swung forward and back in time with the music.

It is still often sung at all kinds of parties, and definitely at a Burns Supper. But as you know, "Auld Lang Syne" is most often sung at Hogmonay (New Year's Eve) parties when the clock strikes midnight and the new year is ushered in.

Countdown to New Year

Countdown to New Year

Obviously the rhyme is no longer the same, but you will get the general idea of this sentimental song.

So print out the words this New Year, impress your friends, sing AND understand the words with confidence. When THEY ask the question, "What does Auld Lang Syne Mean?", then YOU can tell them.

This is, I believe his most famous piece, but he also wrote other songs and poems that have reached international fame, such as Address To A Haggis or the beautiful Love Song, "My Love is Like a Red Red Rose".

By the way, if YOU know a Scottish Poem that you would like to be included on this site, or indeed if you have written one, why not submit your contribution HERE, so people from around the world can enjoy it. Rabbie also paraphrased some of the Psalms including Psalm 1.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

So what does Auld Lang Syne Mean? Here is my attempt at translating it.

"Old Days Long Ago"

(Auld Lang Syne)

Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And never be remembered?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And the days long ago they shared?


For days now long ago, my dear,
For days now now long ago,
We'll drink a toast of kind remembrance,
For days now long ago.


You can pay for your pint-measure!
And I will pay for mine!
We'll drink a toast of kind remembrance
For days now long ago.


We two have run about the hills,
And pulled wild daisies,
But now we've wandered many a weary foot,
Since those days now long ago.


We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning until dinner time;
But broad seas (oceans) have roared between us
Since those days now long ago.


So here's my hand, my trusted friend!
And give me your hand!
And we will take a good-will drink together,
In memory of those days now long ago.

If you've enjoyed reading, "What does Auld Lang Syne Mean", then have a look at the following poems too:-

My Love is Like a Red Red Rose - This lovely romantic poem/song by Rabbie Burns.
The Collier Laddie - Believed to be one of the oldest of Fife's songs.
Address to a Haggis - Rabbie Burns’ famous poem, recited at Burn' Suppers throughout the world.
Auld Lang Syne - Rabbie Burns' famous song, traditionally sung to bring in the New Year.
Poem Mary Morrison - Another love poem by Rabbie Burns. I've dedicated this page to my Aunt, also called Mary Morrison who passed away in 2007.
The Boy in The Train - This delightful poem describes one young lads arrival by train to Kirkcaldy with smell of the linoleum factories.
Titanic Poem - Answers this question followed by a poem about that tragedy written by my Grandmother (from Scotland, of course!)
Address To A Mouse - This Poem was written when Burns disturbed a mouse’s nest when ploughing a field.
Address To The Toothache - This descriptive Poem says it all!
The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens - This ballad mentions Dunfermline, the ancient capital of Scotland.
Psalm 1 - This Psalm was paraphrased by Rabbie Burns.
The Carls o Dysart - This Poem/song was written by Rabbie Burns on a journey through Fife.
Burns Supper - Learn a bit more about a Burns Supper and get the Menu and recipe for Haggis, chappit potatoes and bashed neeps.
Hogmanay - See how we bring in the New Year in Scotland.
Scottish Custom and Traditions - Learn a bit more about some of our customs and traditions.
Language, Customs and Culture Bookstore - Browse through our Bookstore for Scots-English Dictionaries, and plenty books on the works of Rabbie Burns.

See also poems contributed by visitors:

I Love The Lomonds, Cheeseboard, The Silver Trail to Crail , This Public Bar in Ladybank, A Friendly Fife Said "Hello", They walked all the way from Glasgow, Aberdour Greets Me Kindly, A Glimpse of Gold in Kirkcaldy, Kingskettle Cemetery, The Bonnie Bonnie Sand of St Andrews Bay, Thomas Joseph Harris, The Tay Bridge Disaster, Sojourn in St Andrews, When I walked to Leven, I should have played for Ladybank Violet, The Old Scottish Stone, Collessie, The Kingdom of Fife, Lady Mary Ann, The Village of Tayport & its Surroundings, Loch Leven, Grace Before Dinner, Holy Willie's Prayer, Will Ye No' Come Back Again, The Rights of Woman, Scots Wha Hae, Tam o' Shanter, The Star o' Rabbie Burns, Robert Burns, Ae Fond Kiss, Ballade of the Royal Game of Golf, A Man's a Man for A' That, To A Louse, Cuddle Doon, Scotch Drink

Share Scottish Poetry - Poems contributed by visitors to this site. Do contribute YOUR poems and have them published on this site!

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