Auld Lang Syne

Reprinted from PN December 2012

Toast the new year with an open heart as well as a a glass of bubbly.

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In a few short weeks it will be New Year’s Eve, and we can expect the usual festivities, crowded restaurants and nightclubs, black-tie hotel parties, private functions, and, for some, a marathon of college football games. 

And yet, for some of us it will not be the grandiose celebration it used to be. I understand this since, like me, my heart still has some negative feelings toward many of the people and circumstances I have encountered during my experience as a person with a disability.

How’s It Go?

Still, I believe the best way to go into the new year is to follow the example of James Watson, the Scottish writer of the famed poem turned song, “Auld Lang Syne,” in the year 1711. 

For the benefit of those who always wonder what the heck everyone is singing about (and it’s probably a good portion of people), here are the original lyrics of the poem on which the song is based:


Should old acquaintance be forgot

And never thought upon;

The flames of love extinguished

And fully past and gone.

Is thy heart now grown so cold

That loving breast of thine;

That thou canst never once reflect

On old lang syne.

On old long syne my Jo,

In old long syne.

That thou canst never once reflect,

On old long syne.


My hearth is ravish with delight,

When thee I think upon.

All grief and sorrow takes the flight

And speedily is gone;

The bright resemblance of thy face

So fills this heart of mine.

That force nor fate can me displease

For old long syne.


Then Robert Burns, in 1788, submitted his song, based on the poem, but altered to fit the flow of the melody:


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And (days of) auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo,

For auld lang syne.

We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.


  And surely you’ll buy
         your pint cup,

  And surely, I’ll buy mine.

  We’ll drink a cup
         o’ kindness yet,

  For (days of) auld lang syne.

Old Times

 “Auld lang syne” literally translates to English as “old long since,” and it loosely or idiomatically translates as “old times.” So “for auld lang syne” is “for the sake of old times.”

For more than 300 years, people have believed in forgiving and forgetting all the bad memories of people and events that have occurred this year, or throughout our lives (if this is your first time doing this). The idea is to go into the new year with a clean slate and open heart with everyone in our lives, but especially with those toward whom we have some measure of anger or sadness.

A Toast

What is most significant, however, is that this is accomplished by simply raising a glass of beer, champagne, wine or other drink of choice.

Not that there is anything magical in the drink, but more so it is something we can simply choose to do. Not for any mystical reason, or for any psychological benefit, although there are many arguments made for both, but simply for the sake of having a Happy New Year.  


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Auld Lang Syne


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