Where did New Year’s resolutions even come from?

Every year there are two types of people: those that make New Year’s resolutions and those that make fun of those for making resolutions. Whether you’re the former or latter you might be interested in why resolutions exist in the first place. If you knew the origin of where New Year’s resolutions come from, you may think a little differently on whether to make a list and stick with it this year. Or not, do you!

According to History.com, it is believed that ancient Babylonians were the first people to start New Year’s resolutions.

Although the Babylonians did not have a written calendar, this tradition is believed to have started over 4,000 years ago. It is also believed that they were the first group of peoples to honor the New Year.

So you know how New Years Eve is one night and sometimes it can be super stressful finding the perfect outfit and plans?  Back then the Babylonians had an epic 12-day religious festival called Akitu. The people of Babylon crowned the new King or they made it clear their loyalty to the current King. During this time the citizens would make promises to God as a way to pay their debts. These promises are now what we know to be New Year’s resolutions. It was a known fact among the people that if they kept their promises to the Pagan Gods, they would be given favor in the coming year. If they did not keep their promises then they would fall out of the gods’ favor.

Over time the idea of making promises to God changed when Julius Caesar changed the beginning of the New Year. Babylonians celebrated the New Year around mid-March, surrounding the planting of crops. The idea of celebrating New Years in January came about when Caesar moved the beginning of the New Year in 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."

In 1740, English clergy man John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service which was essentially a church service on New Year’s Eve. According to History.com, church services were held to include scripture readings and hymn singing. This is also popular tradition in evangelical Protestant churches and African American non denominational and Christian churches. Although making resolutions started from religious roots, now people make secular resolutions.

So, no, New Year’s resolutions aren’t just something cooked up by Americans to loose weight, it’s rooted in some real history! The more you know!

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