Sung while standing in a circle and holding crossed hands with your nearest and dearest, it has been sung on New Year’s Eve for generations.
But now Auld Lang Syne is at risk of dying out, streaming figures show, as Millennials are shunning the traditional way of ringing in the New Year.
For the next generation are willing to let old anthems be forgotten, according to new research which show the Scottish ballad is not a hit with younger listeners. The song, based on a poem by Robert Burns, is sung to ring in the New Year as people cross arms to hold hands in a circle throughout the song.
It was the most-played track between 11.55pm on New Year’s Eve 2017 and 12.05am on January 1 this year, according to streaming service Deezer. However it is predicted to attract fewer plays when the clock strikes midnight tonight.
Last year listeners aged 18 to 25 made up up only 5 per cent of those streaming on New Year, suggesting its popularity is dwindling among the young. Conversely more than half of all Auld Lang Syne streams are from listeners aged over 45, suggesting that older Brits are choosing to maintain the tradition.
The song’s fading future could be down to the fact that 42 per cent of Millenials do not know a single word of the lyrics, according to research by Sainsbury’s.
Of the general population just three per cent of people in the UK know all the words, it found, with the majority only able to belt out the chorus and the first few lines but then failing after that.
Deezer editor Adam Read said: “This New Year’s Eve, we’re encouraging more young people to embrace the festive tradition of singing Auld Lang Syne.”
The original version was a folk song penned in 1788 by Robert Burns. He sent a copy of the song to his friend, Mrs Agnes Dunlop, exclaiming: “There is more of the fire of native genius in it than in half a dozen of modern English Bacchanalians!”
Five years later he sent it to James Johnson, who was compiling a book of old Scottish songs, The Scottish Musical Museum, with an explanation: “The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.”
Later it was made into a traditional folk tune, and it became a Scottish custom to sing the song, which was spread across the world through emigration from the British Isles.
The international popularity and special significance of Auld Lang Syne was poignantly illustrated during the Christmas Truce at the start of World War 1. For a brief moment the guns fell silent and troops from both sides left the trenches to swap souvenirs and sing songs.
Although the song appears to be losing appeal it still remains popular in Scotland, with Glasgow the location of the most streams. This is followed by Farnham in Surrey, with Aberdeen, Barry and Great Yarmouth rounding off the top five.
Traditionally people held hands with the person next to them and only crossed arms from the final verse, before rushing inwards when it is over, however according to Deezer this is rarely what happens now.
Meanwhile consumers appeared to opt for a low key New Year’s Eve, as retailers struggle to sell party clothes and top-rated parties were not sold out of tickets last night.
Ladies’ wear retailer LK Bennett is offering “New Years Eve party outfits” with price reductions of up to 70 per cent off. Its Abigail Silk red dress is on sale at £95, down by 67 per cent from its full price of £295.
Asos is also offering huge discounts, with its offerings including a Design mini plunge satin kimono dress for £15, down by 60 per cent from £38. And in a sign that Brits are staying in instead of going out, parties in the capital which are top-rated according to Time Out magazine have failed to sell out ahead of tonight’s celebrations.