New Year's
The meaning of the iconic New Year's Eve song "Auld Lang Syne" Reuters

Sure, practically everyone knows the tune to the New Year’s Eve song “Auld Lang Syne,” but what about the lyrics or its meaning? Even if New Year’s celebrators have managed not to become intoxicated by the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, most would still have a tough time reciting the words.

There’s dozens of different versions of the song on YouTube, which was originally written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in the 18th century, according to At first, it was penned as a poem, but eventually earned the tune of a traditional folk song. The title directly translates to “old long ago,” but essentially means “as times gone by” or “the good old days,” the Examiner wrote. The song references bringing harmony and belonging into the future, but it also reminisces about the good times that were had in the past.

The song became popular in North America after Guy Lombardo’s orchestra played it on radio and TV every New Year's for nearly 50 years, starting in 1929, USA Today wrote. In fact, it was never supposed to be a New Year’s song, or even a holiday song, ABC News added.

In addition to having dozens of versions, the song has also been used in movies over the past several decades. “Auld Lang Syne” plays when Carrie rushes to meet Miranda on New Year’s Eve in the “Sex and the City” movie, Billy Crystal’s character Harry even appropriately wonders “what does this song mean?” when it plays in “When Harry Met Sally.”

So you don’t have to sing “Should old acquaintance be forgot and something, something, something,” click here to learn the lines to Burns’ poem, courtesy of, and check out the scene where Harry discusses the meaning of "Auld Lang Syne" below:

Have a safe and happy New Year.

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