Many people think that the New Year’s Resolution is something that was developed in modern times. Nothing could be further from the truth. The history of the New Year’s Resolution can be traced back to Babylonian times.
The New Year was once celebrated in the month of March and coincided with the changes in the moon. Certain religions celebrated the New Year at different times and in different ways.
It was the Romans who eventually changed the calendar and the New Year to resemble the model that we are now familiar with today. January is named after Janus who was a two faced God. He could face looking back upon the outgoing year and look forwards to the upcoming one.
The Romans are also responsible for the setting the trend of making New Year’s Resolutions. They were first made as a commitment to making positive changes for the new year. The main idea of a resolution was to be kind to each other.
As the faith of Christianity appeared the New Year was seen as a time for prayer and for fasting. The Puritan faith did not recognize this and even went as far as not recognizing the month of January by name. Instead they taught their children to refer to the New Year as the First Month. The children were taught to spend this time reflecting on the previous year and to spend time contemplating the upcoming year.
In modern times most countries around the world celebrate the New Year in January. The Chinese though still celebrate the New Year after the second moon of the Winter Solstice.
Many traditions are associated with the period from Christmas up until the New Year. The New Year itself is rung in differently in many countries. Numerous countries set off huge fireworks display and attend New Year events such as parties, fancy balls and galas.
Animals are often associated with the New Year as well. In Eastern Europe for example the pig is revered at this time of year. Many symbols of good luck include things like coins, desserts and certain foods. Depending on where you live these traditions can vary considerably. Desserts and puddings are cooked with hidden gems inside them including a variety of things from almonds to silver coins. Whoever discovers the gem is said to have good luck for the coming year.
One of the most well known New Year’s traditions is the famous dropping of the ball in Times Square, New York. This event is now televised worldwide. In Britain the first male to step inside a house in the New Year is supposed to bring luck. This male is supposed to bring a gift such as bread, coins or coal which passes on good fortune to all family members.
In Scotland the New Year is referred to as Hogmanay or Night of the Candle. The Hogmanay is actually a three cornered biscuit which was eaten on New Year’s Eve. Other foods associated with the Scottish New Year include wine, cheese, shortbread, oatcakes, scones and currant loaf.
After the sun sets, people collected juniper and water to purify their homes. All Scots clean their homes for the New Year celebration and this is a ritual that is still in place today. The burning juniper branches were carried through the home to help remove germs and diseases.
Other traditions include visiting people with gifts of food, singing songs in the streets and more. As you can see the New Year is a time that is celebrated in various ways around the world. How is it celebrated in your country?