The New Year is upon us, and with it celebrations to top off a season filled with gatherings and music. The holiday season has months worths of songs, but on New Years we always turn to the song written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Auld Lang Syne is a requirement on that night to hear played loud and brightly. We know the melody of the Old Scottish Air, but the words seem harder to sing along to than most with its specific dialectic and archaic words and spellings, and so it is nice to take a moment during the month of New Years to remember Robert Burns the man who wrote the poem that became the entire world’s celebratory song to usher in the new year.
Auld Lange is a song based on a poem written centuries ago, and its words endure even when the meaning sometimes takes a moment of translating. It is about kindness and friendship and reflecting upon what has happened in the past year while looking towards the next. Robert Burns was a writer and a poet born in the mid eighteen century in a small town in Scotland. Burns considered leaving his native farming area to travel and to raise the money for his trip to he chose his best poems and had them published together as the Kilmarnock Edition. This book of his poems was so immediately successful that he decided to stay in Scotland and live in the city of Edinburgh. He earned fame and success as a poet and his words endure. We celebrate his works and his life each time we sing Auld Lang Syne.
In Scotland the winters are cold and dark comes early. There are always warm and cheerful pubs and restaurants with fireplaces and comfortable chairs to spend time in with family and friends. Burns Night in the United Kingdom is celebrated in January on or near his birth of January 25th. In many part of the United Kingdom special dinner celebration are organized in homes or by restaurants with themed menus. The menu usually varies little in its loyalty to traditions. The dinner is started with a rich meat broth sometimes made of lamb, and the evening is highlighted by haggis, which is a savory meat dish specialty of Scotland or salmon and finished with a hot rhubarb and oatmeal crumble with a sweetened cream and the tables are lit by only candlelight. Often there is a man hired for the evening dressed as Robert Burns who offers his Scottish blessing and his poetry is read throughout the evening as each course is paired with samplings of Scottish whiskey. It is a magical night of unexpected learning and fun and puts perspective on that song that we all want to hear when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.
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