Written in 1788 by Robert Burns and sung to a traditional Scottish folk melody, the song's title literally means 'old long since', but is the equivalent of such sayings as 'for old time's sake'
Singing the song in Scotland at Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) quickly became a Scots custom that spread across the world, as Scots emigrated and took the song with them
Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo is often credited with popularising the use of the song at New Year's celebrations in North America, through his annual broadcasts on radio and television beginning in 1929, although it is recorded as ushering in the New Year in the States much earlier in the 19th century
Its first appearance in films was in the Charlie Chaplin movie The Gold Rush, re-released with added sound in 1942, where it is sung at a New Year's Eve party
In Japan, Auld Lang Syne is played daily to mark closing time in most large department stores, while in China it is one of the most popular mobile phone ring tones all year round
In Brazil, Portugal, France, Spain, Greece, Poland and Germany the song is used to mark a farewell
In India, the melody was the direct inspiration for the popular Bengali song 'Purano shei diner kotha' (About the old days) composed by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and forms one of the more recognisable tunes in Rabindra Sangeet (Rabindra's Songs), a body of work of 2,230 songs and lyrical poems that form the backbone of Bengali music
In the Philippines, it is well known and sung at celebrations like graduations, New Year and Christmas Day
In Latin America, a salsa version of Auld Lang Syne recorded by Salsa Celtica is a regular fixture in salsa clubs, while other recording artists who have made their mark on the famous track include Funk legend James Brown and even Elvis
Syne is pronounced like sign - never zyne
And the refrain is 'For auld lang syne" - NOT 'For the sake of auld lang syne'
The original Scots version of Auld Lang Syne:
1. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days o' auld lang syne.
2. And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp! And surely I'll be mine! And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne.
3. We twa hae run about the braes And pu'd the gowans fine; But we've wander'd mony a weary foot Sin auld lang syne.
4. We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn, Frae mornin' sun till dine; But seas between us braid hae roar'd Sin auld lang syne.
5. And there's a hand, my trusty fiere! And gie's a hand o' thine! And we'll tak a right guid willy waught, For auld lang syne.