New Year’s Resolution

Social IssuesPhilosophy

  • Author Arindam Dey
  • Published January 26, 2022
  • Word count 583

A New Year's resolution is a tradition in which a person resolves to continue good habits, change an undesirable trait or behavior, achieve a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life at the start of a new year. It is most common in the Western World, but it can also be found in the Eastern World Every January, thousands of people all around the world set a goal to help them start the new year off right. But how did this tradition begin? We look at the history of New Year’s resolutions.

Some 4,000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians are thought to have been the first to establish New Year's resolutions. They were the first to have recorded New Year's Eve celebrations. For them, the year began in mid-March, when the crops were planted, rather than in January. They promised the Gods that they would pay their debts and return any borrowed items. These commitments could be seen as a precursor to our New Year's resolutions. In ancient Rome, the tradition of making New Year's resolutions endured. In 46 B.C., Emperor Julius Caesar introduced a "calendar," declaring January 1st to be the start of the new year. Janus would be honored with sacrifices and pledges of good behavior for the coming year. In the Middle Ages, people set New Year's resolutions as well. By putting their hands on a live or roasted peacock, knights would renew their commitment to chivalry.

The first day of the new year became a traditional occasion for early Christians to reflect on their past mistakes and resolve to do and be better in the future. By the 17th century, New Year's resolutions appeared to be commonplace. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve. also known as "watch night services". Watch night services on New Year's Eve are now common among conservative churches, particularly African American denominations and communities, and are often spent praying and setting resolutions for the next year. Despite the religious origins of the tradition, New Year's resolutions are now primarily a secular ritual. Instead of making commitments to the gods, most individuals make goals for themselves, with the sole purpose of improving themselves.

Why do people make New Year’s resolutions? New Year’s Day is the most popular time of the year for people to hit the proverbial “reset button.” Eat healthier, exercise more, lose weight, save more money, learn a new skill, read more, watch less TV or mobile, travel more, quit smoking, get a new job, spend more time with family and friends, and so on are the most popular resolutions. Most people, I believe, want to have a second chance to improve their lives. The New Year presents a clean slate, an opportunity to start again. When we make New Year's goals, we're using a notion called self-efficacy, which says, "I have a sense of control over what's going on in my life by aspiring to a goal and following through on it."

The annual ritual of making resolutions does not have to be a failure. Sometimes the difference between success and failure comes down to picking the proper goal and following the correct approach to get there. Above all, remember to be kind and flexible with yourself, and to acknowledge and applaud any and all progress. It's not only about achieving the end objective; it's also about enjoying the adventure along the way.

Thank you.

[1] “New Year's resolution”, Wikipedia

[2] “Exploring the history behind New Year’s resolutions”, The Real World from Trafalgar

[3] “Why do people make New Year’s resolutions?”, Piedmont

[4] “How to keep your new year’s resolutions”, verywell mind

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