Making promises at New Year has gained popularity after the Second World War, especially on the Western Hemisphere. But the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions dates back a long time.
The Babylonians, about 4000 years ago, were the first people recorded in history to hold celebrations at New Year. The Babylonian New Year began in mid-March, the time of planting crops. There was a grand 12-day religious festival called Akitu, during which they crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. People made promises to the gods that they would pay back their debts and return borrowed objects. If they kept their word, their gods would grant good fortune to them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favour, which was considered the greatest misfortune.
The Roman tradition of celebrating New Year bears some resemblance to the Babylonian tradition, though there are quite some differences. In ancient Rome, Julius Caesar reformed the calendar around 46 B.C. and made 1st January the beginning of the new year. The name of the month “January” comes from Janus, the two-faced god. Janus’ spirit inhabited doorways and arches and people believed that one of his faces was looking backwards into the previous year and the other one was looking ahead into the future. The Romans offered sacrifices to him and made promises to him at the beginning of each year. The promises were generally about living a life of good morals.
It was the knights who kept the tradition alive in Medieval Times: they would reaffirm their vows of chivalry at the turn of each year. For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to be better in the future.
20th century on
Between the two world wars, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year’s resolutions. At the turn of the millennia, this number rose to 45%. The practice of New Year’s resolutions has long broken away from its religious roots. Instead of making promises to the gods, people make resolutions to themselves, and mostly about self-improvement.
How well does this tradition work?
How well does this 4000-year old tradition work? Changing your lifestyle, your routine is very hard to achieve. According to recent research, on a general level, only 8% of people are successful at that. According to another research, though, success rate is over ten times higher (46%) when people make New Year’s resolutions than the success rate of deciding to make life changes at other times of the year! (Norcross, JC, Mrykalo, MS, Blagys, MD, J. Clin. Psych. 58: 397-405. 2009). Experts explain this incredible difference with the psychological factor: New Year carries the meaning of closure and restart, which helps the psyche to make a change and keep it.
A bejegyzés szerzője
Szabó Kisanna vagyok. Az angol egészen kicsi korom óta az életem szerves része, csakúgy, mint az irodalom, az írás: irodalmár-nyelvtanár családból származom, s örököltem mind az érdeklődést, mind a motivációt. Éltem és tanultam az USA-ban és Nagy-Britanniában, számos nemzetközi művészeti és oktatási projektben dolgoztam - angolul.
A nyelvismeret átadásával az emberek kezébe hasznos eszközt adok, ezért is szeretek tanítani. A mondás nagyon találó, hogy „ahány nyelvet beszélsz, annyi ember vagy”. Hiszek az élményszerű nyelvoktatásban - ennek is köszönhetem kiváló eredményeimet és azt, hogy az óráim kitűnő hangulatban telnek. A leveltybooks-szal mindenki számára elérhető, izgalmas, érdekes, ugyanakkor tartós eredményeket hozó módját kínáljuk az angoltanulásnak – a nyelvtanulást, olvasásélményt egyesítve.