'Auld Lang Syne' Song Meaning and Lyrics for New Year's Eve 2017

NYE
A couple kisses in celebration of New Year's Eve in Times Square in New York City just after midnight on January 1, 2017. Yana Paskova/Getty Images

"Auld Lang Syne" is as ubiquitous on New Year's Eve as booze and counting down from 10. But when the song plays over the weekend, a lot of folks won't even know what it means.

The tune became part of New Year's Eve traditions across the globe, but it started in Scotland. Scottish poet Robert Burns claimed he was the first to put the lyrics of the ancient melody onto paper when he sent it to the Scots Musical Museum in 1788, according to a page about the song at Scotland.org. Burns didn't write the song, but did reportedly pen in a letter to a friend, "There is more of the fire of native genius in it than in half a dozen of modern English Bacchanalians!"

"Auld Lang Syne" roughly translates to "for old times' sake" and the song is about honoring one's friends and reminiscing about the year that's gone by. (It's not hard to see why the song caught on.)

Lyrics for the song differ because as time has gone by folks began making minor changes here and there. Mariah Carey's version, for instance, basically repeats the first two parts of the song over an increasingly fast beat. It's also unlikely you'll hear Burns's original version since most folks can't understand the language. But here are the full lyrics of an English translation, via The Independent, likely to be pretty close to what you'll hear—and really all that matters are the first eight lines or so:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you'll buy your pint cup!
and surely I'll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we've wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there's a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o' thine!
And we'll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.