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What does ‘Auld Lang Syne’ mean?

After the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, the crowd cheers, couples kiss, confetti flies and the song you hear is “Auld Lang Syne.” For Americans this song is associated with another year passing, but it means something else entirely in other cultures. Since the Scottish poet Robert Burns first published the words to the song in the 18th century, the melody has been adapted as a soccer ballad in the Netherlands, a graduation song in Japan, and more.

So, how did Auld Lang Syne, a Scottish folk tune, become America’s go-to song for New Year’s Eve celebrations? It’s all for old time’s sake and remembering friends. Also: Guy Lombardo. Vox explores the history and usage of this song in The New Year’s Eve song, explained.

Further reading on Scotland.org: The history and words of Auld Lang Syne.

Follow this with What Does OK Stand For? and Where Do New Words Come From? Plus: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

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