Sung across most of the English-speaking world to herald the new year – how many people actually know what "auld lang syne" means?

The famous verse written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788, is based on a folk song from even further back in time.

Auld Lang Syne is traditionally chorused at the stroke of midnight to bid farewell to the old year and welcome in the new.

READ MORE: Why do we hold hands during Auld Lang Syne?

New Year Tradition

Most adults will have joined in an alcohol-soaked rendition of the song at some stage in their lives, yet the meaning is often overlooked.

The general thrust of Auld Lang Syne is "for the sake of old times", though a more literal translation of auld lang syne would read, "old long since".

The song describes a pair of friends reminiscing and raising a drink for old time’s sake.

READ MORE: When is Boris Johnson's next announcement? Here's what he will say on New Year's Eve

The instantly recognisable tune of Auld Lang Syne can be heard played on the bagpipes in this New Year message from the Royal Family.

Words to Auld Lang Syne

While the original is, of course, Scots verse, possibly the most recognisable lyrics, and the ones most people sing, are the traditional English translation below.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld 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 hills,
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.