As we near the end of January, we approach a tradition that has stood for years: this is for Auld Lang Syne and the life of Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns.
Who was Rabbie Burns?
Robert Burns, also known as Robbie or Rabbie, was a Scottish poet and lyricist. Rabbie inspired the founders of both socialism and liberalism and is held as a pioneer of the Romantic movement. Burns’ line “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley”, helped John Steinbeck to title his classic novella, Of Mice and Men. Today many regard auld Rabbie Burns as the national poet of Scotland, and, in 2009, the Scottish public voted him the greatest Scot.
When is Burns Night celebrated?
Burns Night is celebrated on the 25th January, the day of the Bard’s birthday. On Wednesday 25th January 2017 people will gather all over the world for a gastro-literary supper, wherein attendees should contribute a verse or a dish to the evening’s festivities. And certainly don’t forget to address the haggis as it is brought into the room!
What is ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and why do we sing it?
‘Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.’
‘Auld Lang Syne’ was an ancient song, which Robert Burns first transcribed. ‘For auld lang syne’ roughly translates as ‘for old times’ sake’. Sung in most English speaking countries, as well as Mexico, Russia and Japan, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is a truly international anthem. And, allegedly, a translated version of the song is so embedded in China that many Chinese believe it to be a native anthem! Although the song is tinged with nostalgia when sung on New Year’s Eve, the lyric’s intention is to celebrate the reunion rather than loss of old friends.
‘And there’s a hand, my trusty friend!
And give us a hand of yours!
And we’ll take a deep draught of good-will
For long, long ago…’
Wherever you celebrate Burns Night, we hope you have super supper, and, for further insight into the works of auld Rabbie Burns, make sure to check out some of his verses here.
Banner image source: via Wikimedia Commons