I know, I know, I’m a week late for this one. But on New Year’s, my family asked what in the world this song means, so I figured it would be a great feature for my first Word of the Week post in January!
I’ve never really looked too deeply into this song and the subsequent popularization of the phrase, but the credit for it goes to Robert Burns (he would be the one in the header image), who wrote it in 1788. The words auld lang syne are Scottish dialect, literally meaning “old long since.” Which is more or less, “the good old days” or “days long ago.” The entire poem (set to a melody already known by the time Burns wrote this), is basically saying, “let’s drink a toast to the good old days.”
If you’re like me and have never bothered learning all the words to this one, here’s a side-by-side of the original word including the Scottish phrases, and the English translation:

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