Making New Year’s resolutions
31st Dec 2020
Love them or hate them, it’s a reasonably safe bet that you’ve seen social media posts/been forced to listen to someone’s ‘new year, new me’ checklist since we clinked glasses at midnight on 1st January. Some view the first day of the first month in a new year as a clean sheet to reinvent themselves, learn to make pasta or drink more water (humble, but admirable), whereas others are quite happy with the same them or don’t see why January 1st should stand higher up in the pecking order to any other date as a time to set oneself goals.
Life is busy, and certain goals naturally take a back seat when necessities claim shotgun, but a new year hands us an opportunity to explore new ventures and hit refresh. But where did this penchant for setting ‘future-us’ tasks ‘past-us’ never dreamed of doing?
The first record of something akin to what we would define as New Year’s resolutions, was 4,000 years ago when the ancient Babylonians would make promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any borrowed items when they entered a new year (which would occur when new crops were planted in mid-March, rather than January). They believed that if they stayed strong and saw their promises through, the gods would bestow good fortune upon them.
The practice also has roots in Ancient Roman times. Julius Caesar took it upon himself to rejig the calendar a little and, inspired by the two-faced god Janus, established 1st January as the start of a new year. People at the time believed the month had particular significance as Janus would be observing the way they had conducted themselves in the previous year and keeping tabs on their behaviour in the coming one.
In 1740, John Wesley, an English clergyman, created a date known as the Covenant Renewal Service which was observed on New Year’s Eve and acted as an opportunity for members of the clergy to reflect on the previous year and resolve to do better in the year ahead.
Although our ancestors were pretty hot on sticking to the resolutions they made at the dawn of a new year, us modern folk are most likely to throw in the towel on the 12th January (known as quitters day) according to research conducted by Strava. The BlytheRay team are adamant not to fall victim to quitting early-doors: Maddy has committed to reduce her plastic consumption and Said has the sky-high ambition of holding back the tears when Manchester United fall out of the title race.