A New Year Resolution of Sorts

      Chances are most of us have made and broken a number of New Year Resolutions over the years.  I know I have. From dieting and going to the gym, (the top two New Year resolutions) to getting more sleep or dusting off the pages of that novel you’ve been planning to finish all these years.  But, have you ever wondered about the history of New Year Resolutions.  Well, you should know by now this is something I would definitely be curious about. So, I did a bit of digging and found a few interesting facts about the origins of New Year Resolutions.  For starters, many ancient civilizations celebrated the onset of the New Year following some agricultural or astonomical event.  For the Egytians, the day would coincide with the flooding of the Nile.  In China, the date was set by the second new moon following the winter soltice. The ancient Babylonians were the first noted to make promises to their gods some 4000 years ago. The New Year date was usually in late March following the vermal equinox. These ancient peoples promised to return any borrowed objects as well as pay off their debts. Hhmm…, perhaps our own government should take a page from the Babylonians starting debt free each year? One of the earliest Roman emperors, Romulus, the founder of Rome, set the date of the New Year to coincide with the vermal Equinox as well. But, eventually this date fell out of sync with the sun. So in 46 B.C., Julius Ceasar comissioned his best astronomers and mathematic experts to come up with a more accurate calender.  This calender became known as the Julian calendar  which closely resembles the Gregorian calender prevalent in most countries. Julius Ceasar proclaimed January 1st as the New Year to honor the god, Janus.  Janus is the Roman two-faced God who looks both backward into the previous year as well as looking forward into the new one. The Romans were known for their New Year parties where they would exchange gifts with one another and party the night away. In the Medieval era, knights would renew their vows to chivalry at the end of the Christmas season. This was known as taking the Peacock vows to reaffirm their commitment to the nine virtues established as chivalric standards of the day. Of course, this did involve a luncheon amongst the ladies of the aristocracy where a stuffed and baked peacock was presented head and plumage on display.  Yum…? New Years was celebrated on December 25th to celebrate Christ’s birth and or March 25th to celebrate the feast of the annunciation.  As you can well imagine with all the date changes, much confusion abounded. Finally in 1852 Pope Gregory XIII set January 1st as New Year’s Day. In present day, many Christians attend watchnight services to pray and make resolutions to re-affrim their committment to God. In 1907, Adolph S. Ochs, the publisher of the NYTimes engineered a five foot wide iron globe studded with 216 electric lights.  The orb was set to drop from a flagpole precisely at midnight in Times Square starting a New Year’s Eve traditon emulated around the globe. Studies have shown that almost 52 percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution believe they will keep them while only 12 percent actually do. To make and keep a New Year resolution may not be an easy task.  But as you look forward to a 2017, remember that many cultures and peoples throughout history have made promises to God, to others and themselves. And sometimes its not about the promises we keep but the sense of hope and renewel of purpose in the coming New Year. Happy New Year all!!  

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