Just Beverley Issue 72 - Flipbook - Page 15
Where did New Year’s resolutions come from?
When the clock turns midnight on
December 31 and a new year begins,
people all over the world celebrate and
ring in the new year by setting a goal.
the gods would look favourably on them
for the year ahead, but if they broke their
promises to the gods they would fall on the
gods’ bad side. This was not desired and
believed to have a mixture of consequences.
The meaning behind modern day New
Year’s resolutions has changed since the
times of Babylonia and Ancient Rome, and
rather than make promises to gods, most
people make promises to themselves.
While the customary tradition of making
New Year’s resolutions has been around for
thousands of years, it hasn’t always taken
the same form it does today.
The first people to have made New Year’s
resolutions are believed to have been the
ancient Babylonians, some 4,000 years ago.
Babylon is one of the most famous cities
from the ancient world, and served for nearly
two millennia as a centre of Mesopotamian
Babylonians are said to have started
the New Year tradition during Akitu, a
12-day religious festival that involved
the Babylonians crowning a new king or
reaffirming their loyalty to the reigning king.
For them, the new year did not begin in
January but in mid-March when the crops
were planted, so during Akitu, Babylonians
would also plant crops and make promises
to the gods that they would pay their debts
and return any borrowed items.
To celebrate the turn of January, the Romans
would offer sacrifices to Janus and make
promises of good behaviour for the year
It has now become a time to reflect and
focus on self-improvement for personal
Fast-forward through history and the
tradition of making of New Year’s resolutions
continued in ancient Rome, when Emperor
Julius Caesar introduced the new calendar
in 46 B.C., declaring January 1 as the start of
the new year.
Some of the most common New Year’s
resolutions are to eat healthier, exercise
more, lose weight, quit smoking, learn a new
skill or hobby, watch less tv and read more.
Are any of these on your list or are you
aiming for something different?
The new month was named after and
honoured Janus, the two-faced god of
beginnings and transitions who presided
over passages, doors, gates and endings.
Symbolically to the Romans, he looked back
into the previous year and forwards into the
It was believed that if they kept their word,
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