History of New Year’s Resolution

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition in which a person promises to change a bad habit, maintain good manners, achieve a personal goal, or improve their life. The history of New Year’s Resolution dates back to over 4000 Years. New Year’s Resolution is actually NOT a millennial idea. Let’s explore.


The Origin: Babylon Kingdom

New Year’s Resolution’s origin can be observed in the ancient Babylon Empire around 4000 years ago. 

They were the first to hold documented celebrations in recognition of the new year. The New Year’s in the Babylon Kingdom was not celebrated in January, but Early April when crops were planted.

During an extensive week-long religious celebration known as Akitu, the Babylonians installed a new king or reaffirmed their commitment to the prevailing king. They also made vows to the gods to pay their debts and return any things they had borrowed. These vows could be considered the pioneers of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would do them a favor for the coming year. If not, then they would fall out of the gods’ approval—a situation no one desired to be in.

Roman Empire

The celebration of New Year’s Resolutions in January records back to 153 BCE Janus, a god of early Rome who was placed at the top of the calendar. As per the legend, Janus could look back on previous events and advance to the future. Janus became an old symbol for resolutions, and many Romans looked for mercy from their rivals and swapped gifts before the start of each year. The Romans began each year by making commitments to the deity Janus, for whom the month of January is designated.

Janus was always represented with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the rear. Thus he could look forward and backward at the same time. On December 31, the Romans believed Janus is looking back at the old year and advancing to the new.

Christian Era

In the medieval era, Christians turned New Year’s Day to December 25, the birth of Jesus. Then they changed it again to March 25; a festival called the Annunciation. (also known as Lady Day, the Feast of the Incarnation, Conceptio Christi, celebrates the visit of the archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he told her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ)

In the early sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII corrected the Julian calendar, and the recognition of the New Year was back to January 1.

The Gregorian and Julian calendars are solar calendars. Some cultures have lunar calendars, however. The Chinese use a lunar calendar. Their new year begins at the season of the first full moon (over the Far East) following the sun enters Aquarius- sometime between January 19 and February 21.

Although the date for New Year’s Day is not identical in every culture, it is always a time for ceremonies and rituals to ensure happiness in the following year.

Good Luck Traditions around the world

Here’s a look at some good luck customs from around the world. They are believed to bring good fortune and happiness in the coming year.

UNITED STATES – The kiss bestowed at the stroke of midnight in the United States is obtained from masked balls that have been prevalent throughout history. As tradition has it, the masks mean evil spirits from the old year, and the kiss is the pardoning into the new year.

AUSTRIA – The suckling pig is the emblem for good luck for the new year. It’s served on a table adorned with tiny edible pigs. Sweet often consists of green peppermint ice cream in the form of a four-leaf clover.

SICILY – An old Sicilian culture says good luck will come to those who eat lasagna on New Year’s Day but woe, if you dine on macaroni, for any other noodle, will cause bad luck.

ENGLAND – The British place their luck for the coming year in the hands of their first guest. They think the first visitor of each year should be male and carrying gifts. Traditional gifts are fuel for the fire, a cake for the table and a drink for the master. 

HAITI – In Haiti, New Year’s Day is a symbol of the year to come. Haitians wear fashionable clothing and swap gifts hoping that it will bode well for the new year.

SPAIN – In Spain, when the clock strikes midnight, the Spanish eat 12 grapes, one with every second, to bring good luck for the 12 months ahead.

PERU – The Peruvian New Year’s tradition is a spin on the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes at the turn of the year. But in Peru, a 13th grape must be consumed to ensure good luck.

GREECE – A special New Year’s bread is cooked with a coin hidden in the dough. The first slice is for the Christ child, the following for the household’s father, and the third slice is for the home. If the third slice holds the coin, happiness will come early that year.

JAPAN – The Japanese paint their homes in offering to lucky gods. One tradition, Kadomatsu, consists of a pine branch signifying longevity, a bamboo stem meaning prosperity, and a plum blossom conferring nobility.

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