To celebrate the tribute to Scotland'd most famous poet, our Ginuary Gin of the Month is giving away a bottle of Makar Glasgow Gin. Just tell us if you think Robert Burns would have switched from whisky to gin in the form to the right and enter to win!
Image: The Queen and the Blairs sing Auld Lang Syne at the opening of the Millennium Dome, midnight, January 1, 2000. The song's lyricist, Robert Burns, would be proud! Read below for more information about one of the world's most recognized songs.
Below is an excerpt from GINNED! Magazine about Makar Glasgow Gin. Every month, Craft Gin Club members receive a bottle of amazing small-batch gins accompanied by GINNED! Magazine which is full of features about the gin, the distillery and loads of fascinating features.
A MAKAR'S GREATEST EXPORT AND THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF WWI
Whisky. Bagpipes. Salmon. The Scots have bestowed upon the world a multitude of exports that we can all appreciate (and increasingly, gin!).
But perhaps Scotland’s greatest export, one recognized and enjoyed the world over, is not one you immediately identify with its country of origin, likely because it has become so widely internationalized. With its universally appreciated message of togetherness, farewells, and memories of days since past, the Scots song “Auld Lang Syne” creates an instant surge of emotion in people surrounded by the closest of relatives or the strangest of strangers.
And who else could have written the most celebrated of Scottish exports than the most celebrated of Scottish Makars, the Bard himself, Robert Burns. Burns, inspired by a number of existing Scottish folk songs, etched the lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne” on paper in 1788. So moved by his own work was the Bard that he praised his own words in a letter to a friend: “…light be the turf on the breast of the heaven inspired Poet who composed this glorious fragment.”
A mere eight years later, Burns was dead at the premature age of 37. Although much of his work would not meet an obscure fate, “Auld Lang Syne” may have if were not chosen by the Scottish musician, George Thomson, in his five tome work, “A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice.” Burns’ lyrics of longing found themselves splashed on the pages of Thomson’s first volume printed in 1799, three years after Burns’ untimely death.
Its first publication began the spread of an eternal phenomenon beginning with the Scottish migration of the 1800s and continuing through to a multitude of Hollywood films today. From Japan to Johannesburg, Sydney to Seattle, Burns’ words ring loud and true to the many cultures that have translated the original score or composed their own lyrics for the melody, singing them often enough they believe what was born a Scottish folk song to be a work of their own culture.
The cross-cultural recognition has undoubtedly brought foreigners together times uncountable throughout the past 200 years all over the world. But perhaps “Auld Lang Syne’s” most noble rendition occurred 100 years ago this Christmas season during the Christmas Truce of World War I.
A few months into combat operations, casual interactions between British and German armies began to take place, including soldiers from each side visiting the other’s trenches during down time. The visits were not a clever ploy nor had to do with reconnaissance, but were merely human beings greeting others of their race. As Christmas approached, exchanges expanded with both sides shouting salutations to each other across quiet battlefields, the Brits responding to German inquiries about the English football leagues, and both sides singing to one another from their respective trenches.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with all quiet on the Western Front, an unofficial truce took place between 100,000 soldiers, with Brits and Germans coming together in the battlefields’ no man’s land to exchange gifts, attempt football matches on the shell-pocked ground and sing carols. A captain of the British army recorded his account of the sing-along ceasefire writing that it “ended up with ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which we all, English, Scots, Irish, Prussians, Wurttenbergers, etc, joined in. It was absolutely astounding, and if I had seen it on a cinematograph film I should have sworn that it was faked!”
Today, Burns’ song continues to bring strangers together most regularly in the week after Christmas on New Year’s Eve. The Scots may be the only ones that remember the coming together of auld acquaintance in their New Year tradition of Hogmanay. But the acquaintance the rest of the world feels with the gift the Scots have bestowed upon the world will ne’er be forgot.