Thursday, December 30, 2010

Auld lang syne, my dear

I have never understood why people make a big deal out of the arrival of a new year.

It's not a grumpy old fart thing. I've just never seen the significance of celebrating the arrival of another new day. It happens every 24 hours. But once each year it happens and people go crazy drinking and hugging and kissing each other and often total strangers. I have nothing against drinking or hugging and kissing. It's the occasion that stumps me.

Some people suggest New Year's Eve is just an excuse for a party.

Maybe, but I think there's something deeper going on here, something meaningful. Mortality, perhaps? I want to understand, to "get it." So, today I began looking into the holiday and I started by researching the song that defines the event and the spirit:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
 For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup o'kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

That's the first of several verses and choruses of the original poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. Literally translated, the Scottish "auld lang syne" means "old long since," but in context, "For auld lang syne" is loosely translated to mean, "for the sake of old times."
The little light bulb has just gone on in the cartoon balloon over my head!

New Year's Eve isn't about the arrival of a new year, it's about the passing of the old year! 

(Oh, puh-leeze, cut me a little slack. I'm often late to arrive at an obvious conclusion. Especially when people say the opposite of what they mean!) 

It's not about the arriving future, it's about the departing past? Well, Hell's bells, then why don't we make it about that and have an evening of nostalgia and reminiscence? Why don't we just haul out photo albums and tell each other great stories from our personal pasts? Why all the expense, the travel, the fancy meals and too much booze? Why do we insist on making New Year's Eve a big deal?

I don't know. Maybe they're right. Maybe it really is just an excuse for a party and kissing total strangers.

Still, in the words of Robert Burns:

 We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.

How can you argue with that?

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