Friday Factoid: Origin of New Year’s Resolutions

We are now a little past one week into the new year of 2015. Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? If so, how well have you done with keeping it? I have never personally made one, for reasons that I’m unsure of. I didn’t decide to never make them; I just haven’t for whatever reason. Thinking about all of this made me wonder about the origin of making resolutions. Where did this custom start? When beginning my search, I expected a myriad of contradicting answers with the specific origin being evasive and somewhat ambiguous. However, from the little research that I’ve conducted, the answer appears generally consistent amongst a few different sources.

 

Before New Year’s was celebrated in January, it was celebrated in what we now know as the month of March by the Babylonians nearly 4,000 years ago. This time period was chosen as the start of the New Year as it was the beginning of spring time when the leaves come back and the crops grow, hence why it was a logical choice for them (Blaire, 2006). The Babylonians made promises to their gods at the beginning of the year, with promises to repay their debts and return borrowed objects. The Romans changed New Year’s to January in 153 B.C. (Blaire, 2006), named after one of their gods, Janus, the two faced god that could look backward at the old year while simultaneously looking forward at the new year (Petro, 2015). As opposed to returning objects and repaying debts, their resolutions generally regarding treating each other better.  Today, New Year’s Resolutions can encompass a wide variety of areas, but with personal improvement being the center (Blaire, 2006; Petro, 2015). Common resolutions include those pertaining to fitness, finances, altruism, kindness, charity, volunteer work, career goals, reading habits, learning new skills, giving up vices, etc. 

 

What do you think of New Year’s Resolutions? Is it a great way to kick off the new year with a positive mentality? A pointless endeavor that leads people to feel bad when they invariably fail on their goals? Or somewhere in the middle? Either way, belated happy new years from all of us at WKPIC!

 

Blaire, Gary, R. (2006). The History of New Year’s Resolutions. As retrieved from: http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-of-New-Years-Resolutions&id=245213

 

Petro, Bill. (2015). History of New Year’s Resolutions: Where Did They Begin?
As retrieved from: http://billpetro.com/history-of-new-years-resolutions

 

Faisal Roberts, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern

 

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