The Real Reason People Sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ on New Year’s Eve

All over the world people cross hands and mark the beginning of the year with a chorus of the old-timey classic – whether we know the words or not.

But how many of us actually know the lyrics to the centuries-old Scottish folk song, and what do they really mean?

For Americans this song is associated with another year passing, but it means something else entirely in other cultures. Since the Scottish poet Robert Burns first published the words to the song in the 18th century, the melody has been adapted as a soccer ballad in the Netherlands, a graduation song in Japan, and more.