When did “new year, new me” become a thing?

Mia Rollins, Staff Writer

 

When thinking of the New Year, it’s almost impossible not to think about ways to improve ourselves, to have a better year than the one before. Resolutions have become a part of western culture in a huge way. They take up magazine pages, TV time, and billboard spaces and every year people are asked what their New Year’s resolutions are in hopes to change and grow for the better. But every year it’s the same resolutions–lose weight, begin a healthier diet, make more money, become an upgraded version of yourself all in a matter of twelve months. Why is the New Year such a big celebration globally, and when did it start becoming a tradition to make these resolutions?

According to History.com, it was the Ancient Babylonians who started the wave of setting goals for the new year. “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.”

The article continued explaining that the Babylonians had also made promises to the gods to pay their debts.

“These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions.”

The Babylonians were not alone in pioneering the common holiday today. It has been said that the Egyptians and the Romans celebrated the upcoming year and its opportunity.

“Roman emperor Julius Caesar had moved the first day of the year to Jan. 1 in honor of the Roman god of beginnings, Janus, an idea that took some time to catch on,” wrote author for How Stuff Works, Laurie Dove.

As mentioned earlier, celebrating New Year’s Eve and day seems to be one of the more common shared holidays wherever people live.

Today in the U.S. the most common resolutions are starting healthy habits. Statista breaks down this year’s YouGov poll on the most common new year’s resolutions. Eat healthier–37 percent, get more exercise–37 percent, save (more) money–37 percent, focus on self-care (more sleep)–24 percent, read more–18 percent, make new friends–15 percent, learn a new skill–15 percent, get a (new) job–14 percent, take up a new hobby–13 percent, and “I don’t plan on making a new year’s resolution”–32 percent.

While these all sound great and somewhat manageable, how do people keep on track and keep accountable of these new commitments to themselves?

Psychology professor, Joe Ferrari from De Paul University in Chicago offers the suggestion of using social media to help keep those new promises alive.

He points out, “When you keep resolutions a secret, no one is going to check up on you. You’re only accountable to yourself”.

Ferrari continues and says that using social networks where people can be vocal and publicly post their personal promises to their friends and family is a way to encourage the continuing of the lifestyle change.

As social media and technology has a stronger hold on the lives of not only Americans but those around the world, it’ll be interesting to see how social media has affected the traditions of setting new year goals by the next year.

 

Captions

  1. Happy New Year 2018 pulled from scififantasynetwork.com.
  2. Happy New Year 2018 pulled from happynewyear2018x.com.

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