The future of Auld Lang Syne being sung at the turn of the New Year has been thrown into doubt, with just 3% of people in the UK knowing the words, according to a study.
Research by Sainsbury’s shows the majority can belt out the chorus and first few lines at best, but 42% of millennials do not know a single word.
It also found that more than half do not know Scottish bard Robert Burns wrote the words, with 3% even believing Mariah Carey was the author.
Sainsbury’s has now put together a songsheet online in an effort to revive the tradition.
A spokesman for the retailer said: “We want everyone to have a great New Year’s Eve and singing Auld Lang Syne – or Old Land Sign as some people thought – is as much a part of our celebrations as a glass of fizz at midnight.
“We’ve revealed that many are missing out on this tradition because they don’t feel confident of the lyrics, so Sainsbury’s has created some handy song sheets so no-one has to hum along at the stroke of midnight this year.
“We hope all our customers ‘take a cup of kindness yet’ and have a very happy New Year.”
Auld Lang Syne is sung as a way to bid farewell to the old year in many English-speaking countries.
People will usually cross arms to hold hands in circle throughout the song.
In Scotland, the tradition is to hold hands with the person next to you and only cross arms over your breast from the final verse, before rushing inwards when it is over.
When presented with lyrics from the song the majority of younger people had a hard time recognising them, with the study showing 54% failed to identify the chorus, despite it featuring the words Auld Lang Syne.
Further errors included mistakenly believing lyrics from The Beatles (40%), Abba (60%), Taylor Swift (34%) and Little Mix (30%) were lines from the 18th century poem.
Snoop Dogg’s lyrics to his song New Year’s Eve – “And every time I see you shine. It’s like the lights of midnight. On New Year’s Eve” – were thought to be part of the song by 45% of respondents.
Scots did not fare much better – just 7% said they knew all the lyrics, while most admitted they knew hardly any.
However, eight out of 10 people north of the border correctly identified Burns as the man who wrote the song.