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All About New Year’s Resolutions

January 5, 2021

This year, we resolve to write more blog posts about New Year’s resolutions. And look at that, we did it!

• Ancient Babylonians started the idea of New Year’s resolutions about 4,000 years ago, although the new year in that society started in the middle of March and lined up with crop-planting season. As part of Akitu, a 12-day religious and social festival, Babylonians promised the gods that they would pay debts and return borrowed items. In exchange, such was the deal, the gods would provide and ensure a healthy harvest.

• About 2,000 years ago, in Ancient Rome, the calendar as we know it today took shape, with the new year officially beginning on the first day of the month of January. The namesake of the month: the two-faced god Janus. Romans believed that each of Janus’s faces looked in opposite directions, one to the past and one to the future. In recognition of the latter, Romans offered up sacrifices and also promised to behave correctly in the new year.

 • New Year’s resolutions also have roots in Christianity, specifically the Methodist faith. Sect founder John Wesley devised a special New Year’s Eve religious service in 1740, which included biblical readings, singing hymns, and congregants assuring themselves, each other, and their higher power that they’d act in a morally upstanding way in the year to come. 

• No, not everybody makes New Year’s resolutions. According to researchers, slightly less than half of all American adults make a specific resolution. Of that number, about half were successful in fully meeting their stated goals. 

• What are the most common New Year’s resolutions? They mostly involve health. The most popular are exercising more, losing weight, and eating more healthily. Other frequently stated resolutions: getting organized, learning a new hobby or skill, traveling more, and saving money.

• It’s tough to turn some resolutions into realities, but it’s not impossible. According to life coaches, psychologists, and other experts, there are ways to make these life changes easier to accomplish. They say it’s important to be specific with a resolution, and to break it down into smaller ones with built-in benchmarks to measure and appreciate progress. Experts also advise to only take on one or two resolutions and to seek out friends and family in your mission — not only to provide support but also accountability.

It’s a brand new year! Learn new trivia day after day with the 2020 Uncle John's Greatest Know on Earth Bathroom Reader. It’s available now.

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