About singing scouts and celebrating dutch people

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

That’s the beginning of one of the probably most famous scout songs ever. It’s the song of goodbye, it’s sung at the end of jamborees, camps, or other activities, when everybody’s going home. It’s the song of that type of goodbye nobody really wants.

But although this is a fairly unspecial song, as unspecial as a typical scout song is, it is a song with a long journey, a journey all the way from New Years Eve in America, japanese fireflies to dutch soccer.

But let’s start at the beginning: This song originates in Scotland and was called Auld Lang Syne (scots for “long, long ago”). It was a typical folklore song from the eightteen century Scotland. After the unification of England and Scotland to form the United Kindom in 1707 some scotish feared loosing their own language, Scots. So the publisher James Watson travelled through Scotland to collect, similar to the Grimm brothers in Germany, scottish folklore, to save it. He published the result of his work in 1711 as a book, witch also included Auld Lang Syne.

Since then, Auld Lang Syne was a, primarily in Great Britain beloved song to mourn the good old times. As time goes by it appeared on many parts of the world. From 1919 to 1948 it was the melody of the korean, later south korean national anthem and until 1972 that from the maldivian anthem. Because of colonialism it also came to then dutch ruled Indonesia, where some indigenous musicans played the melody at funerals.

In Japan it is known as Hotaru no Hikari (japanese for “shine of a fire fly”), which today often is used in malls or supermarkets to indicate the soon closing of the facility. For the dutch on the other hand it is that one soccer song. When they won the european championship in 1988 the dutch version, Wij houden van Oranje (dutch. „We love Orange“, because the dutch trikots are colored that way) was played.

To Germany the song came probably first in 1946, when the musican Claus Laue translated it into german for the DPSG, the biggest german scouting society. Before that it was also used by scouts in other countries.

But probably the most fame came from Guy Lombardo. The canadian musican played the song toghetter with his band His Royal Canadians at New Years Eve 1929 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, a concert broadcasted live on radio. This was also the time many americans bought their first radio devices, so a lot of people listend to Lombardo and his band. Since then it is a tradition to play Auld Lang Syne on New Years Eve and for many not only americans, but people all over the world, mostly in english speaking countries, it is a symbol for the end of the old, and the start of the new year.

Something interesting at the end: Nearly all versions and usecases of Auld Lang Syne, alltough sometimes indirectly, have something to do with saying goodbye, with finish and emphemerality: As a goodbye to the olg year, the quick flying fire flies, the good old times, as described in the original lyrics, or as saying goodbye to other fellow scouts.

In that respect: Happy new year!

Author: Florian Boden

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