But a new BBC Scotland documentary has revealed that the song’s presence in New Year’s Eve celebrations came about thanks to a Canadian-American bandleader and a cigar firm.
The documentary tells of how Guy Lombardo, a bandleader who was nicknamed America’s Mr New Year’s Eve, was searching for a song to bridge a gap between radio broadcasts.
Lombardo’s Big Canadian Band chose Burns’ Auld Lang Syne because the show was sponsored by a cigar firm bearing the Bard’s name.
How Auld Lang Syne Took Over The World, which will be shown on Hogmanay, also reveals how the song was performed live each year at the Roosevelt Theatre in New York, and later in the Waldorf Astoria to an audience of millions. Lombardo first heard Burns’ poem being sung by Scots immigrants in Canada in his youth, and had later become the bandleader’s theme song.
How Auld Lang Syne Took Over The World will be broadcast on BBC One Scotland at 10.20pm, December 31.