New Year’s Resolutions, Really?

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New Year's Resolutions
New Year's Resolutions | Image by lifehacker.com

The year 2020 will go down as one of, if not the worst and most difficult years for us to survive. We’ve talked about it before. The COVID-19 Pandemic, the horrible and devastating wildfires, the shut-down of so many businesses, distance learning for our children and even more of the issues we normally would have to deal with. Just getting through all of this has been a struggle, so I don’t think too many of us are concerned with the usual thoughts this time of the year. New Year’s Day is this week, but New Year’s Resolutions are the farthest things from my mind right now.

Wearing My Mask
Wearing Masks- L to R: Me, My Wife, & Our Daughter | Photo by Tim Chuey

We’re more concerned with just getting this year behind us. My resolutions are quite simple and fitting for our current situation and I sincerely hope that everyone else will abide by them too. First, I will wear my face covering, mask, whenever I am away from my own house. Second, I will stay at least 6 to 10 feet away from others. Third, I will do my best to not comment when I see others wearing their mask improperly with it not covering their nose. They might just as well not wear it at all. Fourth, I will practice patience as the frustrations of this social distancing often build up. Fifth, as soon as I am allowed I will get the COVID Vaccine so I can protect myself and anyone I come in contact with. Most of us are quite sincere when we make them, but somehow in the not too distant future they will go by the wayside forgotten and ignored. This year I won’t let that happen to me.

The Babylonian Empire
The Babylonian Empire | Image by history discussion.net

I always wondered who came up with idea of New Year’s resolutions anyway. Where did the idea come from in the first place? Why decide to change your ways just because the new year begins? I had no idea the practice began so long ago. My research on the subject starts with history.com where I was surprised by the answer. “The ancient Babylonians are said to be 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.

Akitu Festival
Akitu Festival Temple of Marduk | Image by Ancient Origins

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.” They believed that if they kept their promises their gods would reward them in the new year, but if they didn’t they would fall out of favor with their pagan gods.

Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar Bust | Photo by timeanddate.com

In ancient Rome a similar practice took place. It seems when Julius Caesar changed the calendar around 46 B.C. and made January the first month of the year New Year’s resolutions were born there too.

Janus
Janus | Photo by ferrebeekeeper-wordpress.com

The month was named after the Roman god Janus who was represented having two faces. He was the god whose spirit inhabited doorways and with the two faces could look back at the past and forward to the future. They offered sacrifices to Janus and promised good conduct for the next year.

John Wesley
John Wesley |Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard

According to history.com “For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as watch night services, they include readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year.”

Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur Day Of Atonement | Image by hopeinmessiah.org

Other religious groups share a similar belief. During the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) Jews say “one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness.” That’s according to Wikipedia. During the Christian season of Lent the practice of sacrifice during Lent also leads promising to do better in the upcoming year.

New Year's Resolutions
New Year’s Resolutions | Image by lifehacker.com

I found an interesting statistic that states about 45% of Americans say they make New Year’s Resolutions but only about 8% actually follow through and put them into practice. So whether you make New Year’s Resolutions or not it is always a good idea to plan to be a better person in the future than you have been in the past. Losing weight, not cursing, being more generous and many other resolutions promised at least show we are trying even if we can’t follow through with it for the entire year to come.

If you follow my resolutions you may have an easier time navigating through the rest of the pandemic until the virus is under control. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

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