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Canadian History for Kids: Auld Lang Syne

What does auld lang syne mean anyway?

This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada, looks at the amazing career of Guy Lombardo, bandleader and violinist, whose theme song became Auld Lang Syne. New Year’s Eve, or December 31, became synonymous with Guy Lombardo even before Dick Clark’s Rockin Eve.

This Canadian History for Kids article begins when Gaetano Alberto “Guy” Lombardo was born in London, Ontario, Canada on June 19, 1902, to Italian-Canadian immigrants, who made sure four of their sons learned to play instruments. Guy Lombardo and his brother formed their first orchestra while in school and their first performance was in London, Ontario, in 1914.

In 1924 the band, now called Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, began playing at the Claremont Tent, a nightclub in Cleveland, Ohio. It was also in Cleveland that Guy Lombardo and his band began using the medium of radio to his advantage with the station WTAM, where they would broadcast their show at the Claremont.

This Canadian History for Kids article continues in 1927 when the band moved to Chicago where it played at the Granada Café while broadcasting over the radio station WBBM.

The band’s first New Year’s Eve radio broadcast was in 1928.

This Canadian History for Kids article continues in 1929 when the band began its long run with the Roosevelt Grill in New York and later at the grand ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria. The broadcast and later the telecast by CBS of the band’s New Year’s Eve performances became a traditional part of New Year’s through North America, with the band performing “Auld Lang Syne” at the stroke of midnight.

The Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788, began with the question of whether old times should be forgotten. Most people only remember the first verse and the chorus, which is “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne? For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne. We’ll take a cup of kindness yet. For auld lang syne.”

The band also made more than forty five recordings between 1924 and 1942. At the time of Guy Lombardo’s death on November 5, 1977, almost 100 LPs had been released and by the early 1970s they had sales of over $300 million.

Happy New Year from everyone at Canadian History for Kids!

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