The Fun History of Resolutions

new year resolutionsThe New Year is a time to make resolutions, whereby we promise to make improvements to our lives in the coming year. The tradition of making resolutions took hold with the Romans. They worshipped a multitude of gods and goddesses and believed that these deities influenced their lives. Today, making resolutions is a generally a non-spiritual activity.

In 45 BC, Roman general Julius Caesar proposed a new calendar which took effect by edict. It replaced the Roman calendar, a complicated system based on lunar phases. January became the first month of the year in Caesar’s Julian calendar. In the old Roman calendar, March was originally the first month of the year.

It is believed that January was named for Janus; the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages and endings. The god Janus is depicted with two faces. One face looks toward the future, the other into the past. The Romans made sacrifices to this god with promises (resolutions) of good conduct in the new year.

It has been suggested that in accordance with ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs, the tutelary deity of January is the goddess Juno. However, many maintain that the Romans named June after Juno, the goddess of marriage and childbirth. Roman history shares that wedding days were carefully chosen to avoid bad omens, and that June was a favored month for marriage.

Despite the Janus versus Juno debate, we face bigger problems. According to statistics shared by Business Insider in January 2017, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Still, making resolutions is a wonderful tradition. We can set new goals, focus on personal improvement, and try to be better, even if it’s most likely short-lived.

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