I, personally, find New Year's resolutions more of a burden than anything else, something to beat myself up about in the dark, cold days of February but quickly forgotten when the spring flowers come of life and my garden is alive with proliferating flora and fauna. However, so many people make resolutions that I thought I would look up their ancestry.
New Year's resolutions seem to have begun with the ancient Babylonians who made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. That tradition developed and evolved under the Romans into a series of promises to Janus, the god of beginnings after whom the month January is named. He is also the god of gates, transitions, time, doorways, passages and endings. Usually depicted with two faces, he also presided over the beginning and ending of conflict: the doors of his temple were open in time of war and closed to mark peace.
Over the next millenia various ages adopted variations on the theme of reaffirmation of promises, while the world religions used it to urge us to reflect upon our wrongdoings in order to seek and offer forgiveness. That seems to me to have moved on a little from the original simple message and introduced a level of guilt which, to me at least, seems unhelpful.
|Liverpool Central Library - one of my favourite places to work|
Being a book person the message I take from the Babylonians is that I must check I have returned all the books I borrowed in 2016 whether from libraries or friends. But, flippancy aside, I'm beginning to like the idea of returning borrowed objects and paying debts. It seems to me so much more positive and interactive than promising myself I will go to the gym once a week or always wash socks in pairs or, heaven forbid, promise to make love to my husband three times a week. No, I think I shall take away the positive message and return affection that I have been given over the last year and pay my respect to friendships that have held me up in difficult times as well as celebrating good things. So my New Year's Resolution is made.
I wish you all a very happy 2017.