This week, millions of people will begin their New Year’s Resolutions. Statistics say that about 8% will be successful.
Ever wonder where this tradition started?
Historians track the origin of this custom to the ancient Babylonians, who used the new year to try to make amends for their wrongdoings of the past year. The New Year’s celebration originated around 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia. Using various events (such as the spring or autumn equinox, or the winter or summer solstice) to determine the date of when the year began, other cultures soon followed suit in celebrating their humanly-devised “first day of the year.” For example: Egypt’s new year came not long after the summer solstice; the Phoenicians and Persians began their new year with the autumn equinox (September 21); the Celts celebrated the new year on November 1; and until the 5th century B.C., the Greeks observed their new year on the winter solstice (December 21).
New Year’s celebrations included elaborate parties and merrymaking, as well as the custom of making resolutions for the upcoming year, attempting a “fresh start.” Notice: Many ancient peoples…performed rituals to do away with the past and purify themselves for the new year. For example, some people put out the fires they were using and started new ones. While it’s a good idea to start anew, the highly celebrated NYE song, Auld Lang Syne, encourages us to not forget about the good ol’ days that shaped us. Literally translated, Auld Lang Syne means ‘for the sake of old times’. (click here for full explanation)
Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished, and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold, that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect On Old long syne.
- On Old long syne my Jo, On Old long syne, That thou canst never once reflect, On Old long syne.
One of the most common resolutions in ancient Babylon was to return all borrowed farming equipment. Additionally, depending on the culture, various gods were worshipped on that day and asked to bless the upcoming year. From these early traditions, the custom of New Year’s resolutions was passed down through generations, becoming the tradition that so many participate in today.
I hope that this year brings you prosperity and success, and that you’re part of that 8%!