New Year’s Resolutions, Past and Present

Probably ever since you can remember people have been making big plans to better themselves each time January 1st rolls around. Whether it’s losing weight, being more kind to others, or a list of books to read, many people find the first of the year to be a fresh start to a better “you.” For thousands of years the concept of a New Year’s resolution has been one found in many cultures, but it hasn’t always been about weight loss and it hasn’t always started on January first. Let’s take a look at the story of the New Year’s Resolution, past and present.

  • In the 2000s BC, the Babylonians celebrated Akitu in March/April, which was the beginning of the year according to their calendar. They celebrated with roughly a week’s worth of religious ceremonies regarding the supreme god Marduk. The second day of ritual included the King of Babylon reading a list of assurances to the gods. These assurances included things that would please the gods as well as those meant to appease Babylonians such as offering societal and tax privileges. By making these promises, the King hoped for a year of good harvest and fortune from Marduk. Aside from the King’s assurances , the Babylonians promised to return all borrowed cooking and farm tools and pay all personal debts.
  • The Roman calendar originally started in March, as well. However, in the eighth century BC, the Roman King Numa Pompilius added the months Januarius and Februarius to the beginning of the calendar, which (as you can assume) eventually became January and February. Januarius was aptly named after Janus, the god of doors and beginnings. Romans would make promises and give sacrifices to Janus and would exchange gifts with neighbors. According to the Romans Janus had two heads, one to see into the past and one to see into the future; by promising to fix wrongdoings in the past, they hoped to be shown good fortune in the upcoming year.
  • In Medieval Times (500 AD- 1500), Knights would take the Peacock Vow during the last feast of Christmas week. The vow consisted of placing one’s hands on a peacock and swearing to continue one’s pledge to chivalry.
  • (Past and present segue) Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a time of reflection and renewal. It occurs on the first two days of the Jewish New Year, falling sometime between September 5 and October 5 on the Gregorian calendar. Rosh Hashanah begins the Ten Days of Repentance and the ten days end on Yom Kippur, one of the most important Jewish Holidays. The first ten days of the Jewish New Year allow for reflection on, and seeking atonement for, the sins of the past year. It is said that judgment for the past year is made on Rosh Hashanah but is not finalized until Yom Kippur. Kol Nidre is the prayer that beings the evening service of Yom Kippur and it is a service for asking god to annul vows made in the past year that were left uncompleted (within certain guidelines that make my head hurt to try and understand). After confessing their unfulfilled vows, individuals ask for forgiveness for said vows. The evening service of Yom Kippur closes with Neilah, a one hour service that is basically the final opportunity for making things right with God and promising to do better in the New Year.

Well, I was doing pretty well in timing this post to be up right before the end of the first day of the year but I failed at that. Whoops. Anyway, now we’re going from the history of New Year’s Resolutions to my personal ones. I might throw in some reasons, I might not. We’ll see.

  1. I resolve to spend one hour of every day doing something that I love. Hopefully, but not necessarily, broken into twenty or thirty minute segments of writing, reading, painting, or anything that does not involve technology (none of this hour can be used for blog writing)
  2. I resolve to write one blog post every day for 100 days, starting today, January 2nd, and ending on April 12 (which, oddly enough, is my sister’s birthday!). I don’t have specific breakdowns of how many in each category I will write, but I will write a post every single day for the next 100 days barring an emergency.
  3. Because of that ambitious blogging resolution, I resolve to remove myself from Facebook for the next 100 days. I do this to a) give myself more time to devote to resolutions 1 and 2, b) allow me to connect with those people in my everyday life more thoroughly, and c) just give me a freakin’ break from that shit.
  4. I resolve to call my parents and brothers once a week, even if it is just to say hello. (and to let my sister and her boyfriend know how grateful I am for them letting me live in their house…at least once a week!)
  5. I resolve to continue working out 4+ days a week, in order to make 2015 my healthiest year yet!
  6. I resolve to drink a glass of water before I drink anything else that I want.
  7. I resolve to continue saving 65+% of my income for a car and/or future relocation.
  8. I resolve to be the best daughter/sister/friend/me I can be.
  9. I resolve to discover a new place every week.
  10. I resolve to fold and put my clothes away as soon as they are done (probably the hardest resolution for my laundry-hating self).

To be honest, I’ve never really been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve always thought that they were silly; we are all going to give up by March, anyway, right? But I have already started a lot of these habits in small ways and I just want to have an easy way to know when I really started committing to them. As you can see, I have made a lot of promises to myself for 2015. But I really think that I can handle all of these, especially with the time I’ll hopefully save by not letting notifications and likes define my self-worth and not rotting away while looking at how happy everybody looks. Don’t worry, you’ll probably still see sweaty selfies of me with my sister on her page if you’re friends. Nobody wants to miss those, right?

Facebook friends, if you’ve made it here and you’d like to keep up on me during my hundred-day hiatus, subscribe to my blog! Also, feel free to leave a comment on this entry if you have any ideas for future posts when I get lazy/desperate between now and April 12th. I’d really appreciate it!

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Comment below! Thanks for reading, folks. Until tomorrow!

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