The words for the most commonly sung song for English-speakers on New Year’s eve, “Auld Lang Syne,” come from an old Scottish ditty that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in 1796. Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns’s homeland. According to www.infoplease.com , “Auld Lang Syne,” which asks whether old friends and times will be remembered, is “one of the most popular songs that nobody knows the lyrics to."
I also discovered that “it was bandleader Guy Lombardo, who played the song at midnight at a New Year’s Eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929, when a tradition was born.” Lombardo’s version of “Auld Lang Syne” was played every New Year’s Eve at the Waldorf Astoria from the 1930s until 1976. In the first years it was broadcast on radio, and later on television. The song became such a tradition that Life magazine wrote that if Lombardo failed to play “Auld Lang Syne,” “the American public would not believe that the new year had really arrived.”
Here are just a few of the events happening in our own backyard on December 31, 2011.
WHERE: The Delaware Valley Youth Center, 8 Creamery Road, Callicoon. 570/224-0813.
WHAT: "Bring your dancing shoes to a family-oriented New Year’s dance party featuring live traditional Flamenco and Middle Eastern dances with popular music to follow. Bring a dessert for the potluck table. Money collected will benefit Delaware Riverkeeper.”
A peaceful New Year's
WHERE:The Kadampa Meditation Center, 47 Sweeney Rd., Glen Spey, NY. 845/856-9000.
WHAT: Kadampa will hold a New Year celebration to help bring peace and compassion to 2012. There will be light refreshments, a video presentation and candlelit prayers at midnight.
Dancing Cat New Year
WHERE:The Dancing Cat Saloon, 2037 Route 17B, Bethel, NY. 845/583-3141.
WHAT: “We are going to have a fantastic party to bring in the new year, all night long, with very talented and fun friends Compton Maddux and the Dirt Simple Band.” The Cat has put together a package that includes lodging nearby for those who want to “dance the night away” without having to travel; visit www.dancingcatsaloon.com  for more information.
New Year's at the Crossroads
WHERE: Konrads Kitchen and Grill at the Crossroads, #2 Beaver Brook Rd., Yulan, NY. 845/468-5772.
WHAT: A special holiday menu on New Year's Eve with duck, steak, seafood and more, followed by a dinner buffet with a DJ and entertainment on New Year's Day.
Roll out the red carpet
WHERE: Luzon Station Eatery and Saloon, 3 Horseshoe Lake Rd., Kauneonga Lake, NY.
WHAT: “Come ring in the New Year with us dressed as your favorite Hollywood movie star and walk the red carpet, as you pose for the paparazzi!” Showtime at 10:45 p.m. Mobster party
WHERE: Changing of the Guard, 1 Horseshoe Lake Rd, Kauneonga Lake, NY. 845/583-5300.
WHAT: Gangster New Year’s Eve “Mobster Party.” Replete with the requisite champagne toast at midnight, the Changing of the Guard party includes “Party favors, red carpet entrance, prizes, music, specials and fun.”
WHERE: Side Tracks, 62 School St., Callicoon, NY. 845/887-9882.
WHAT: “Rock into 2012 with Richard and the Secular Sextet at Side Tracks in Callicoon. Doors open at 9 p.m., RATSS starts at 11 p.m., and will play well into the New Year.”
New Year's with a view
WHERE: Glass Wine Bar & BIstro at Ledges Hotel, 120 Falls Ave., Hawley, PA. 570/226-1337.
WHAT: Celebrate New Year's Eve with dinner and a view at the Glass Wine Bar & Bistro, whose dining room overlooks River Gorge Falls.
Paella and a cause
WHERE: Samba Cafe, 4893 Main St., Jeffersonville, NY. 845/482-5900.
WHAT: Ring in the New Year with a paella dinner and support a worthy cause—the 29th Street Rep School of Theater Foundation’s Act Now! program, which teaches free theater arts in the Sullivan West School District, and will expand to Roscoe, Livingston Manor and Liberty in 2012.
A traditional countdown
WHERE: Three Wishes Restaurant, Route 652, Beach Lake, PA. 570/729-8187.
WHAT: If you're looking for a traditional New Year's countdown with noisemakers, hats and champage, you can find it at Three Wishes, which will also feature a special holiday menu.
New Year's Eve two ways
WHERE: The Settlers Inn, 4 Main Ave., Hawley, PA. 570/226-2993.
WHAT: The Settlers Inn will host a traditional celebration, serving from 5 to 10 p.m., as well as a Jazz Supper Club featuring the Kelly Suttonfeld Trio. The New Year will be rung in with hats, champagne and noisemakers.
Seafood for New Year's
WHERE: Best Western Hotel in Matamoras, PA.
WHAT: Seafood lovers can have all they crave to eat at Best Western's New Year's Eve bash.