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For Old Times' Sake

“Auld Lang Syne” brings me to tears. What is up with that? I don’t even understand the words. Yet, whenever I hear it, especially sung by a large group of people—ugh, I get all choked up. Strangers in a bar suddenly harmonizing in a drunken outpouring of love and appreciation can be the sweetest thing. Such a beautiful melody, just wish I didn’t find it so achingly mournful.

To understand why we sing this bittersweet song when we’re in the midst of ushering in a New Year that we consistently wish upon others to be Happy one, I did some exploring. Turns out nobody—well, maybe three people, so almost nobody—knows or understands all of the lyrics to this New Year’s tradition of Scottish descent.

“Auld Lang Syne” essentially translates to “For Old Times’ Sake.” The lyrics are a celebration of good friends, acquaintances and memories. I’m thinking maybe I need to find a way to flip my view of this around in my head so I can make it through the next New Year dry-eyed. Apparently, there is a special dance for this song that I have never seen. The coordination involved in trying to do it ought to be a good distraction. Or, perhaps in honor of the ancients Scots, I aught to say aught.

If you’re interested, here’s a link for lyrics, dance and history. Fair warning, seeing the full script of lyrics was fascinating, but resulted in me making utterances that I’m fairly certain were not real words in any language.

Despite my mixed feelings about “Auld Lang Syne,” I really do love the song because it is ultimately about love and togetherness and connection. After all, that is the purpose of life. Here’s wishing you a new year full of new friends, new dreams and new opportunities. These words are easy: Happy New Year!

Joanna Evans

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