The new year has arrived, and with it comes an abundance of New Year’s resolutions. We swear off alcohol, exercise regimes begin, and diets drastically change, but have you ever wondered where the concept of New Year’s resolutions comes from?
In fact, this tradition is over 4000 years old dating back to the Babylonian era. The Babylonians are also known to be the first civilisation to hold recorded celebrations in honour of the new year, but these celebrations were held in March when the crops were planted, not in January as we know today. The New Year’s celebrations revolved around the king – either crowning a new king or reaffirming their loyalty to the reigning king. However, their New Years resolutions weren’t focused around the concept of self-improvement but promises to the gods to pay any debts and return any objects they may have borrowed. It was believed that if the Babylonians kept their word, the gods would bestow good favour on them for the coming year.
A similar tradition was continued through to the Roman era, but in 46BC Julius Caesar proposed a new calendar which officially established January as the beginning of the year. New Years festivities for the Romans focused on Janus – the god of beginnings and endings. However, in time the concept of resolutions altered from promises to the gods to pledging allegiance to a set of religious values.
Over time as we have become less and less religious, New Year’s resolutions have become focused on ourselves and how we can become better people. Approximately 1 in 5 of us will think of some sort of resolve on the 1st of January, but although we have had 4000 years of practice, most of us will have given up by the 10th January. Although this is a negative, psychologists claim that we are more likely to succeed if we break down our resolutions into smaller goals which are specific, measurable and time-based. Achieving your smaller goals will make you feel more focused and motivated to stick at it and better yourself. If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution, it’s important that you keep at it, so you become the best version of yourself!
What are your New Year’s resolutions this year? We’d love to hear them and how they are going. Leave a comment below.