History

Where Did The Tradition Of New Year’s Resolutions Come From?

Contrary to what many of us believe, the ringing in of the new year was not created by modern Americans.  The celebration started as far back as 4,000 years ago, when the then Babylonians would celebrate the ringing in of their new year in March with an eleven-day festival.

On the other hand, the ancient Egyptians chose to celebrate the beginning of their new calendar, which would be marked yearly by the Nile River’s flooding.

It was Roman emperor Julius Caesar who moved the first day of the calendar year to that of January 1st.  This moving of the date was to honor Janus, the Roman god of beginnings. However, it took quite a while before the idea caught on and took hold.

Image: Good Housekeeping

In the year 1582, the then Pope Gregory XIII was able to bring the idea of January 1st being the start of the new year into vogue on the then Gregorian calendar—the calendar that is still in use today.

When looking to who originated the making of resolutions on new year’s, that would again involve the Babylonians.  They would make resolutions to their gods in the hope that by doing so, the gods would grant them good favor in the coming year.  More often than not, their resolutions involved getting out of debt.

This practice may sound very familiar, all these centuries later, to many of the resolutions that are made today.  However, there is more to making the resolution and keeping it—merely wanting it is not enough; one needs to work to stick with the resolution.

In an effort to work towards following through on the resolution, it is suggested that you share your resolution with a family member or friend.

Image: Gretchen Rubin

Like with most secrets, when you keep your resolutions to yourself, there is no one there to check-in and keep you on track.  The accountability is only to yourself—and let’s face it; we allow ourselves to slide on these types of things.

Once you have made it a point to involve others—such as family or friends—you will be better able to stick with your resolution and see it through.