Why We Make New Year’s Resolutions

By January 3, 2014Archives

It’s that time of year again. As a new year is upon us, we set about officially welcoming 2014. You might be planning to spend New Year’s Day with friends and family, attending small get-togethers or simply taking it easy at home while watching the ball drop in New York. No matter how you celebrate the new year, you’re likely making some noteworthy New Year’s resolutions.

At the beginning of each new year, people traditionally set new goals that they will strive for during the upcoming 12-month period. These resolutions are usually personal and inspirational. The theory is that if you set some positive goals for yourself, you have a greater tendency to commit and see those goals through. But, where did the New Year’s resolution tradition originate and why?

Humble Beginnings

The act of making resolutions, promises or vows goes back for thousands of years. For example, New Year’s was initially celebrated by the ancient Babylonians over 4,000 years ago. The Babylonians celebrated their new year during the month of March, as it was the first new moon after the vernal equinox.

A massive celebration known as Atiku was held for the event, which lasted for 11 straight days. A specific ritual was performed each day, paying homage to the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat. It was during this time that the Babylonians would make promises to the gods. Some of those resolutions included the payment of debts and the returning of borrowed tools and gardening equipment.

Later, the Roman culture began their own version of these yearly resolutions. They made sacrifices and vows to their god Janus, who symbolized new beginnings and transitions. Janus was thought to rule over the beginning stages of conflict and the resolution of peace. The Romans believed if they pleased Janus with their actions and resolutions, the god would spare and protect them from deadly wars.

A Modern Day Tradition

Today, New Year’s resolutions are quite different in their overall nature. Modern-day people don’t generally commit to a resolution that has far-reaching effects. Instead, resolutions are focused on self improvement or advancement. Here’s a list of some popular New Year’s resolutions:

  • I resolve to stop smoking
  • I resolve to lose weight
  • I resolve to start a workout regimen

 

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