So 2012 is a few days old and I still haven’t made any resolutions yet. The tradition never really caught on in my family, but I know other people who take resolution-making quite seriously each January. I admire their determination to try one new recipe every week for a year or to lose 20 pounds, but I've also wondered why January 1 inspires this goal-setting.
Turns out, making resolutions at the beginning of the year goes back thousands of years to the Babylonians. Their new year began in March, but it was a time to return borrowed plowing equipment, make amends and pay off debts, and resolve to treat others kindly.
The Romans affixed the beginning of the year as the first of January, a month named for Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings and transitions who could look back to the past and forward to the future at the same time. The Romans saw this as a time for doing good deeds to gain favor with the gods for the coming year, and it was bad luck not to follow through on those promises.
When the Romans adopted Christianity in the 4th century, this tradition shifted from doing good deeds for the gods to fasting and prayer, although many of the celebratory traditions continued. Over 1000 years later, the Puritans, leery of associating anything with a roman god (they even used the term “first month” instead of the more common “January”), focused on the spiritual significance of the day. It was a time for fasting and prayer, but also for introspection and for making resolutions. Puritan children were tasked with making resolutions to improve their moral nature and avoid sinful activities, and adults were expected to set the appropriate example by following through on their own resolutions.
Today most of us forgo fasting on New Year’s day, but many resolutions are aimed at self-improvement: to quit smoking, exercise more, swear less. But we also resolve to do the things we’ve been putting off: to clean the garage, try new recipes, and read more books.
Have you made any resolutions yet? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below. And if this is the year you’ve resolved to get your real estate license or become a managing broker, remember that Rockwell is here to help you keep those promises!