Monday, January 7 By: Emily Morris
The Babylonians first broke up time into years 4,000 years ago in March, which was related to planting times. Around this time the first new year resolutions were made, except instead of just a resolution they were a promise, a promise to the pagan gods. This could seem a tad more intimidating in the modern day, considering 80% of our resolutions fail by February (Business Insider). If the Babylonians broke their resolutions, not getting into better shape would not be the only result; they would also fall out of the favor of the gods (History.com).
Later the Romans began to traditionalize what we associate as the new year. In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar tweaked the calendar to pay tribute to a specific pagan god, Janus. The new year was then acknowledged on January 1st and has stuck ever since. Janus also reflects some of today’s considerations on January first; the god is said to have two heads to be able to view the past and the present. Similarly, many partake in resolutions that allow one to remember the past year and make critiques for the coming. The Romans, on the other hand, still did not utilize personalized resolutions, instead they made sacrifices to Janus (Info Please).
The next page in the history of the new year was not turned until 1740 when Christians renovated the traditions. The Covenant Renewal Service was created to branch away from the pagan gods and focus on personal goals. The founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley conducted the first wave of these services, which formed the basis of today’s celebration. People would come together, read scripture, sing hymns, and make resolutions related to their individual betterment (History.com).
The new year will continue to be new for years to come in some way. Despite specific beliefs, an annual restart can be intimidating and helpful, and the outlook all depends on the traditions chosen. Each take from history offers some unique celebration so take your pick.