Got plans to lose weight, eat healthier or save more money? If these or any other New Year's resolutions are on your list, you're in good company because you are taking part in a goal-driven tradition that has emerged in different forms throughout history. People hoping to slim down or move up the corporate latter may not realize it, but they are engaging in a tradition that has ancient origins. Bronze Age people also practiced the fine art of New Year's resolutions, though their oaths were external, rather than internally focused. More than 4,000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians celebrated the New Year not in January, but in March, when the spring harvest came in. The festival, called Akitu, lasted 12 days.
An important facet of Akitu was the crowning of a new king, or reaffirmation of loyalty to the old king, should he still sit on the throne. Special rituals also affirmed humanity's covenant with the gods; as far as Babylonians were concerned, their continued worship was what kept creation humming. Centuries later, the ancient Romans had similar traditions to ring in their new year, which also originally began in March. New Year's resolutions have become a secular tradition, and most Americans who make them now focus on self-improvement. The U.S. government even maintains a website of those looking for tips on achieving some of the most popular resolutions: losing weight, volunteering more, stopping smoking, eating better, getting out of debt and saving money.
If the past is any indication, many Americans have a good chance at keeping their promises for at least part of 2019.
Kemo D. 7