Raise a Cup for Auld Lang Syne … whatever that means.


Every January first at midnight, there are certain things you can count on if you’re in a bar or other large, public gathering.

It is inevitable that, somewhere in the room, strangers will awkwardly kiss because they are terrified of being the only people in the room with no one to kiss at midnight.

Women will wear as many sequins and sparkles as they can carry on their backs, because – well, because.

A crowd consisting of people on varying levels of the sobriety chart will join together in song. Kissing strangers and glittery-garbed women come and go, but the song remains the same. The tune is familiar to everyone on the planet, but the lyrics are universally off-key and misunderstood.

What the heck does “Auld Lang Syne” even mean? Why are we drinking, kissing, toasting and/or sparkling in honor of this thing that no one understands?

I did some checking because I just couldn’t take it anymore. The most consistent version of how this song became “a thing” takes its roots back to Scotland.

Apparently, drunken Scots would raise a glass – or 60 – for “Auld Lang Syne.” The catchy little expression is simply another way of saying something equally nonsensical, “old long since.” I am not making this up. Who could possibly make this up?

No matter how you say it, the translation is simple: Days gone by. That’s it. You are essentially raising a “cup of kindness” (aka hooch) for days gone by. Nope, you aren’t using secret code to swear you’ll keep your resolutions. Statistically, you won’t do that anyway.

You are not reminding yourself to remember the old acquaintances you forgot. You are simply and fondly bidding farewell to the previous 365 days.

This song is about fond memories. It is also played at funerals, which really puts you in the mood to wear a hat and blow a noisemaker, doesn’t it? Maybe we should start doing that at funerals, too. I would be okay with that. Of course, I would also be dead. Honestly, that is probably the only way I could handle that song more than once a year.

If you find the song a little grating, you can thank Scotsman, Robert “Rabbie” Burns. He took the pub tradition and turned it into a poem back in 1788. As Scots migrated around the globe, so did this poem set to music.

Just be glad that those who carried this song to destinations near and far apparently struggled with the lyrics, as well. The original version has five verses.

I like the idea of taking a “cup of kindness” for days gone by. I like the idea of kissing the old year goodbye and saying hello to the New Year, filled with new acquaintances we will soon forget. Beats the heck out of kissing a stranger with beer breath.

Yes, another thing you can count on New Year’s Eve is that I will celebrate from my bed, possibly wearing jammies with sparkles. If I happen to wake when the ball drops on TV, I will kiss a not-so-strange dog (or three).

Happy New Year!


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