Ever Wondered Why We Make New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s Your Answer

These days most people make pledges to themselves rather than to gods as part of a mostly secular tradition known as New Year's resolutions.

by Vaishalee Kalvankar
Ever Wondered Why We Make New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s Your Answer

2023, a crazy year for each one of us in our own ways, is coming to an end, and the world is gearing up to welcome 2024. One thing that has been a part of every new year is making a new year’s resolution. I mean, who on earth has made a resolution for the new year and not broken it? Well, that’s a discussion for another day, maybe, but have you ever wondered about the history of these resolutions? Let us help you with that!

History Of New Year’s Resolutions 

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More than 4,000 years ago, in ancient Babylon, people made their first New Year’s resolutions. It is believed that the custom was initiated by the Babylonians during Akitu, a twelve-day celebration of the New Year.

The ancient Babylonians would cultivate crops, appoint a new monarch (or swear allegiance to the current king), and make vows to the gods to settle their debts and return any borrowed goods during the Akitu festival. 

They felt that if they honoured their pledge, the gods would reward them with good fortune in the upcoming year. The Babylonians would incur the wrath of their gods if they disregarded their pledges.

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History In Ancient Rome

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New Year’s resolutions had a long history in ancient Rome. In 46 B.C., Emperor Julius Caesar instituted a new calendar in which January 1st marked the beginning of a new year. The two-faced god Janus, who symbolically looked both forward into the new year and back into the old one, was honoured on this new date. The Romans would pledge good behaviour for the upcoming year and present sacrifices to Janus.

People in the Middle Ages also made resolutions. Knights would touch a live or roasted peacock to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry. At the conclusion of the year, they would make the yearly “Peacock Vow,” a promise to uphold their chivalrous ideals. 

By the 17th century, New Year’s resolutions seemed to be a regular practice. By 1802, the custom of setting (and breaking) New Year’s resolutions had become so widespread that it was frequently parodied. Making and breaking New Year’s resolutions has a long history, and this is no exception.

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SMART Goals Is The Key

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Nowadays, most people make pledges to themselves rather than to gods as part of a mostly secular tradition known as New Year’s resolutions. The custom emphasises self-improvement, with participants reflecting on their objectives. Today’s resolutions, motivated by the excess of the Christmas season, are frequently health-related. After December 31st, the New Year’s symbolism gives it an excellent opportunity to make a fresh start. 

But if you look closely at your New Year’s resolutions, you will, on your own, understand why you end up breaking them. We tend to make lofty resolutions, and then we do not know how to achieve them. So, what to do?

There is a term known as “SMART” goals. SMART stands for Small, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Now, according to this, you must break down your lofty goals into small and achievable ones. For example, instead of saying I will complete reading this book by January 2024, you can say I will read 2 pages of this book every day! This brings in the willingness to complete the goal! 

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What is your new year’s resolution for 2024?

Cover Image Courtesy: PixaHive

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