But how did this come about?
History records the ancient Babylonians as being the first people to make New Year’s resolutions – over 4000 years ago – although their new year started in mid-March, when crops were ready to be planted. These resolutions, or promises, were made to their gods. If the Babylonians kept their promises, they would be in the gods’ favour. If not, well…it wasn’t good.
The same sort of thing happened in ancient Rome after Julius Caesar set January 1 as the beginning of the new year. January, named after Janus – was a god usually depicted as having two faces. The Romans believed that Janus both looked into the past and into the future. The Romans made promises of good conduct to Janus for the coming year.
Despite the fact that the tradition has religious roots, it is now a more secular practice. Gone are the days of making promises to the gods. Instead, we tell our friends or family of our intentions, and hope to god that we follow through on them.
“Here's to a bright New Year and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold.” ~ Anonymous