New Year’s resolutions – Propósitos de Año Nuevo

We’ve seen it all before – Uncle John says he’s going to give up smoking for the fifth time, cousin Jane promises she’ll start saving up for a deposit and your Dad swears he’s really going to stick to an exercise regime this year, honest! Of course, we know that’s never going to happen, just like it didn’t happen last year, or the year before, or the year before that… New Year’s Resolutions, the cause of false promises and pointless gym memberships galore for years. But just how many years? Around 4000, to be exact! And it’s safe to say nobody was signing up to their local gym, only to never set foot in after January, in 2000 BC. Indeed, the ancient Babylonians were both the first people to celebrate the ‘New Year’ (in March) and the first to make promises, or resolutions, to their gods during this celebration to pay back all debts and return any borrowed items. The now-traditional date of January 1st for this celebration was introduced by Julius Caesar of Rome in 46 BC. Janus, the two-faced god who looked both backwards and forwards at once, lent his name to the month January, and it was to him that Romans made their New Year offerings. Believing him to be symbolically looking into both the past and the future, Romans offered to him to promise good behaviour for the year ahead. Christianity got in on the trend too, with New Year’s Day being a day to reflect on past mistakes and resolving to do better in the future. In 1740 John Wesley of the English Methodist...

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