Auld Lang Syne, the poem by Robert Burn written in 1788, has now become one of the symbols to embrace the new year. In Scotland in particular, this song about ‘old long since’, ‘old time past’ is sung when midnight strikes. Most people would also cross their arms when singing it, though the Queen preferred not to do so in 1999. No one knows exactly why arms have to be crossed and got pulled so uncomfortably, but again, it seems to be the ‘custom’ that most people just follow without questioning, just like people would respond with the silly horse riding dance once the music of Gangnam Style is played. It seems there’s something so spontaneous about Auld Lang Syne with arm-crossing.
I first learnt to sing the Chinese version of Auld Lang Syne when I was 12 years old. Our headmaster taught all Yr 6 students this song through the tannoy in our classroom. There are many Chinese versions of this renowned song, and the version, a popular and classic one, I was taught was called ‘Long Live Friendship.’ （友谊万岁).
The lyrics go: “Who would ever forget their good friends? Once you’ve parted, you’ll sure remember them fondly. Good friends will not be forgotten; friendship is as vast as the earth and sky. Let’s raise our glasses and sing in harmony; long live friendship.” Continue reading