As we grab a mug of the grog tonight and rally round to sing Auld Lang Syne remember to latch on to your neighbour’s arm in the proper Scottish way—only at the last verse. I’ll not disgrace the tune by singing it …
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
For auld lang syne.
And we’ll take a right good-will drink for the sake of old times, my friend.
Robby Burns knew a thing or two about New Years. More than the fact his song became a favourite of Hogmanay—the Scots word for the last day of the year, the one that starts tonight and runs right through to tomorrow morning.
But it’s getting harder and harder to find good-will in the world these days. Nevertheless, hope sneaks in at the New Year.
For Jews, the New Year, after 7 cycles of 7 years each, is the Jubilee—a time when all debts are forgiven. It’s a kind of societal re-boot. The Occupy movement has started something called the Rolling Jubilee. They raise funds to buy people’s debt. But instead of collecting it, they forgive it.
For Muslims, the first day of the month of Muharram is the New Year. To fight in that month is a great sin. Palestinians and Israelis have joined hands in The Parents Circle — a grassroots organization of people from both sides who have lost family to the hostilities. Together, they promote peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land.
Let us dare to hope tonight. And may the cup of kindness you share with friends be a ‘right gude-willy waught’ for peace and equality, for all time’s sake.
© David McLaren December 2012
This was originally written for broadcast on the Bayshore group of stations (including CFOS in Owen Sound). I did not sing.