The beginning of a new year is a good time to get a fresh start, and that is what New Year’s resolutions are all about. Each year, millions of people around the world make promises to do better than they have before. People have done this in many cultures throughout history, going back to ancient Babylon.
The Babylonian new year began in mid-March, not January. The people used this occasion to make promises to their gods that they would try to keep during the year. This was the beginning of what we know today as resolutions.
In ancient Rome, Emperor Julius Caesar made January 1 the beginning of the new year in 46 B.C. The month got its name from Janus, a god the Romans believed had two faces. He was believed to look both backwards into the last year and ahead into the future. People offered sacrifices to Janus and made promises of good behavior for the coming year.
Early Christians took this time to reflect on their past mistakes and to figure out ways to do much better in the future. In 1740, John Wesley created the Covenant Renewal Service, which was held on either New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.
Making resolutions is the easy part. Research suggests as many as 45% of Americans say they make resolutions, but only about 8% succeed in meeting those goals. Some common failed resolutions include saving money, traveling to new places, volunteering, and spending more time with family. Just because some resolutions fail doesn’t mean we should give up on them. After all, practice makes perfect, and this may just be the year that the promise actually sticks.