Asked by Breanne Watsica New Year's EveFolk MusicHolidays and Traditions
Why do we sing “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve?
December 16, 2019 7:26PM
“Auld Lang Syne” is a Scottish folk song that roughly translates into “Old Long Since” or “For Old Times’ Sake.” It became a New Year’s Eve favorite in the U.S. thanks to Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo, who hosted an annual end-of-year concert in New York City starting in 1929.
In 1965, Lombardo told LIFE magazine that he chose the song “because Auld Lang Syne is our theme song—and was long before anyone ever heard us on the radio. In our particular part of western Ontario, where there’s a large Scottish population, it was traditional for bands to end every dance with Auld Lang Syne. We didn’t think it was known here. When we left Canada we had no idea we’d ever play it again.”
The popularity of Lombardo’s yearly concert helped the song become a U.S. tradition to celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of the next, and its status as the New Year’s anthem was reinforced in classic Hollywood films such as An Affair To Remember and It’s a Wonderful Life.