It’s funny how different inputs — such as a simple song — can push different emotional buttons depending on what culture you hail from. When most North Americans hear the Scottish folk song Auld Lang Syne we probably immediately think of New Year’s Eve, of saying goodbye to the old year with a large beer in our hands. Hotaru no Hikari, or Light of the Fireflies, is the title of the Japanese version of this song, and in Japan it’s sung at graduations. The chorus tells the story of hard-working students who wanted to study so much that they read books by the light of fireflies they’d captured in a jar, or the moonlight reflected off snow. It can bring a tear to the eyes of Japanese who hear it sung, and a totally different image from one we might conjure up in the same situation. Incidentally, the song is also played by stores as they’re about to close, and if you’ve ever visited Japan and wondered why they were playing Auld Lang Syne over the store speakers, it was a polite request that you complete your purchase and leave.
In Japan, Auld Lang Syne is played at graduations and shops when its closing time.