If you’ve attended a New Year’s Eve party, watched When Harry Met Sally or managed to stay up until midnight watching Ryan Seacrest (or Dick Clark for those of us that remember the day) on TV you have no doubt heard this song. And depending on how many glasses of champagne you had consumed at the time, you may have even slurred out the words a time or two yourself. I believe that universally we have all wondered what these words meant.
Scottish bard Robert Burns was first to write down the classic song, but the lyrics aren’t his own – he was inspired by fragments of traditional songs from the past. Imogen Groome, a writer for the UK publication the Metro says:
The phrase ‘Auld Lang Syne’ itself means ‘old long ago’,which can be translated as ‘‘days gone by’ or ‘back in the day’. Thomas Keith, a Burns scholar, says the song symbolizes reunion – not parting, as some mistakenly believe. The song looks back over happy days from the past, separation, then coming back together.
You don’t have to spend much time on social media to find someone that you know that is wishing good riddance to 2016.
For many, the year won’t be remembered fondly, as happier days from the past. Instead of being a time of coming back together, it was a time that so many feel ripped apart, from friends, family and business colleagues over differing opinions about politics and politicians, immigration, health care and so many other things that in previous years we gave little thought.
It would serve us well to remember how this song rose to popularity. It was the 19th century – a time when many Scots were emigrating, particularly to Canada and the US. Groome, an Exeter graduate and blogger for the Huffington Post recounts in her article in the Metro that according to US military historian Robbie Wintemute, the Union tried to crack down on the singing of Auld Lang Syne, due to its themes of reconciliation and returning home.
After the surrender terms had been signed, however, the band was ordered to play it, in recognition of the fact that the country and its soldiers had been through great upheaval, and it was now a time for healing. The global significance of Auld Lang Syne was demonstrated during the Christmas Truce at the start of World War I, where the guns fell silent for a brief moment, and troops from both sides left their trenches to sing songs and exchange souvenirs.
Whatever trench you find yourself in this New Year’s Eve of 2016, perhaps at least metaphorically, we should put down our guns and think about happier days from the past. It is ok to recognize the separation, but for 2017, it is time to come back together.
Let’s all take a cup of kindness, for Auld Lang Syne.
For me, I will wish fond farewell to 2016. I will thank God for the many opportunities, the open doors and even the closed doors, the new friends and colleagues I’ve met, the loss of the great actors, musicians and authors, the loss of the unsung heroes in blue and those on the battlefield, fighting for our freedoms. As the country is split on its opinions about Russia, I will be grateful for the country that gave me my son Sergey and pray that relationships between our countries can be friendly again, not just for world peace, but for all the children like him that need to find their “forever families”. As we get ready to say goodbye to the old year and ring in the new, I will be grateful for my health, my family, my friends, this crazy industry and my freedom to be a serial entrepreneur and for the hope that 2017 brings.
Happy New Year Travel Daily Media readers. I wish you a prosperous and truly amazing 2017.
Chicke Fitzgerald, contributing editor, The Executive Village