You are on page 1of 3


BY Alan L. Chrisman
When the calendar year was changed by the Church under Pope Gregory X111 in
1582, from the old Roman Julian calendar to better line up Easter with the Spring
Equinox, and account for an uneven lunar cycle, the end of the year was
designated to be December 31. Ever since, most English-speaking countries have
celebrated New Years Eve by saying good-bye then, to the previous year and
welcoming in the New Year.
Auld Lang Syne has long been one of the songs to be played and sung at that
time, at the stroke of midnight. The words to it are based on a poem, Auld Lang
Syne (meaning old long since) by Scottish poet, Robbie Burns, and the melody
is taken from a traditional Scottish folk tune. As the Scots and others from The
British Isles settled around the world they brought it with them and

commemorated the occasion, so it became part of North Americas traditions.

One of the musicians most associated with Auld Lang Syne for years was Guy
Lombardo. Lombardo was actually originally Canadian and he and his big-band
dance group, The Royal Canadians, popularized it. Lombardo was the headliner
on New Years Eve for almost half a century at New Yorks Roosevelt Hotel and
later at the Waldorf Astoria from 1924 on, where live remotes were broadcast, in
conjunction with celebrations on Times Square, which had become the center of
American festivities. Those shows, first on radio then on TV, were transmitted
into millions of American homes and became part of the shared tradition.

By the mid-70s, rock n roll promoter and founder of American Bandstand, Dick
Clark, had up-dated and began hosting the show for younger generations. He
called his show, Dick Clarks Rockin New Years Eve and Clarks array of acts,
whomever was currently popular, soon became the most watched. It carried on
the tradition of watching the ball drop as everyone counted down the arrival of
the New Year, which had become part of the ritual from New Yorks Times
Square. Clark continued on until, after a stroke in 2004, he had to eventually pass
the hosting duties to Ryan Seacrest.
But even today, the first song played is still Guy Lombardos version of Auld Lang
Syne. Since John Lennons death in New York in 1980, his anthem, Imagine ,
is also poignantly played as well as Frank Sinatras New New York. For
thousands who gather in Times Square, as well as millions more watching around
the world, it has become the occasion to kiss those close and say good-bye to the
old year and welcome in the coming year and say, Happy New Year!
Happy New Years Everyone.
Rod Stewart doing Auld Lang Syne at Scotlands Stirling Castle, 2012:
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
well tak' a cup o kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.