Starting Afresh


It is interesting to read about the history of some of today’s most popular traditions . One of them around this time of the year being the new years resolutions.

‘A New Year’s resolution is a tradition,  in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.’

The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.

A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. Named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.

There are many calendars followed by people around the world and the first day of that calendar year is considered auspicious and appropriate to start afresh.

The context and the content of these traditions change over time.  Today, new year’s resolutions are more of promises made to oneself. Healthy living, Saving money, Self care and Developing new skills find place in the new year resolutions of a majority of people.

The desire to work upon one’s flaws and the longing to start afresh are the primary reasons behind the promises made. Be it to god or to oneself.

Kudos to that spirit and effort.




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