Who invented New Year’s Resolutions?
According to my resolutions for the 2010, I failed miserably. However I do not feel defeated at all.
Who invented this New Year’s Resolutions business anyway?
Well, since the 2011 is knocking at the door, I have to decide if I’m going to be part of this again. So, I did my homework, and I found out it’s OUR FAULT!
When I say “our” I mean us, Italians…. well The Romans!
Looks like everything started with Janus, a fun mythical king, god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, endings and time. Janus has two heads facing opposite directions: one head looks back at the last year while the other looks forward to the new, so he can see simultaneously into the future and the past. This is why he was placed at the head of the Roman calendar (the name January comes from his name).
Romans believed that Janus could forgive transgressions, and many of them, looking for forgiveness, started to give “him” gifts and make promises at the beginning of the new year. Also, they believed that Janus could bless their life giving protection for the entire year (Nice to see how we didn’t change after centuries!).
The tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year’s Eve evolved from sacred trees for good fortune at nuts or coins imprinted to the god Janus,
Although the date for New Year’s Day is not the same in every culture, it is always a time for celebration and for customs to ensure good luck in the coming year, and making resolutions surfaced while the mythical element of Janus was removed.
There are also religious parallels to this secular tradition. People may act similarly during the Christian fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. During Judaism‘s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness.
Ok, I got it. It looks to me that the main concept behind the whole thing is to have self-improvement every year.
Do I want that? Of course I do.
Looking through the most popular goals for the new year I can see I have a very big margin of improvement:
- health: I’m good, thanks, but I hope not to quite exercising for lack of time, or just because I don’t feel like it;
- finances: if we talk about managing, I’m doing great with very few resources;
- education: there is so much I’d like to learn;
- job: next please!
- manage time and stress: lots of improvement needed
- take a trip: it’s time!
- be part of the community: I’m afraid the best I can do is saying “come over for dinner, I hope to have time to make a salad!”
It doesn’t make me feel better to find out that 52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, but only 12% actually achieved their goals.
But then, I found what I needed:
“Women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends”
Ok, I will do it! I will have my resolutions list ready by Dec 31 (2010 of course), and I will share it with you. I’m already on it!
Now, I will need your support or I will lose 5% of chance to succeed. Are you in?