(WYTV) – We have Christmas songs aplenty, but on New Year’s Eve, there’s really only one: “Auld Lang Syne.”

Most of us join in without knowing what “auld lang syne” means, what language it is, or what it has to do with New Year’s. Some historians actually call it the song nobody knows.

“Auld Lang Syne,” as most do know, is the title and key phrase of the song. It’s also the title and key phrase of the 1788 Scottish poem by Robert Burns, which the song is derived from. (The lyrics are believed to be sung to an older Scottish folk song.) The phrase itself translates to “old long since” and basically means “days gone by.” Merriam-Webster actually defines it as “the good old times.”

So the song brings to mind thoughts of past times — but also more than that. The original five-verse poem essentially gets people singing, “Let’s drink to days gone by.”

How did “Auld Lang Syne” become so popular?

As Scots immigrated around the world, they took the song with them. Eventually, North American English speakers translated Burns’ dialect into the common lyrics we know today. The song was later popularized in part by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians band, who performed the song on New Year’s Eve from 1929 until about 1977. It’s his version that plays after the ball drops in Times Square every year.

“And surely you’ll buy your pint cup! And surely I’ll buy mine! And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for Auld Lang Syne.”