A fad or essential rite? — What you should know about New Year’s resolution

By Genevieve Aningo

Every New Year churns out millions of to-do lists by individuals for the year. This is summarily termed New Year Resolution. What is the New Year’s Resolution? Why do we hear a lot about it during the dawn of a new year?  Are resolutions only reserved for a New Year?  What happens when the New Year frenzy fizzles out? Does the resolution thrive or burn out because the year is in its first quarter?

A New Year’s Resolution is simply deciding to achieve a targeted goal in a year.  It could span from intangible habits such as revamping a timid closest to taking life-changing decisions like getting married or relocating to a new environment. The ‘vow’ (New Year Resolution) is mostly taken at the beginning of a New Year calendar. The resolution can be either negative or positive behaviour to attain a desired goal, but it is likely optimistic to improve the quality of one’s life.

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History

Though being a global rite, the New Year Resolution steamed off from the famous religious generation- the Babylonians in 2000 B.C. during spring in the first month of the year called Nisannu. At that time the Babylonians celebrated  the New Year during a 12-day festival called Akitu (the festival of the sowing of barley). The Akitu festival by the Babylonians ushered in the rebirth of nature, start of a farming season, reestablishment of a kingship by divine authority, crowning the king,  and pledge to clear out debts. It was a festival to honour the supreme god, Marduk, his crown prince Nabu and other goods.  A common resolution by the Babylonians was to return borrowed farm equipment after the farming season.

Consequently, the ancient Romans adopted the Babylonians New Year rite but eventually the timing of the resolution altered with the Julian Calendar in 46 B.C which has January as the first month of a New Year. Then January was termed ‘Janus’- a name of a two-faced Roman god which symbolised looking forward to a new beginning and reflecting on the past.

Another account narrated that the New Year Resolution happened at the end of a new year because in the Middle Ages, medieval knights renewed their vow to chivalry by placing their hands on a peacock. This was to show their commitment to the knighthood. It was called –‘Peacock Vow’.

Over time, the New Year’s Resolution spread over the world, and in the 17th century it was captured in a Boston, United States of America Newspaper in 1813. In 1900, the idea of New Year Resolution was hijacked by the Protestants as a spiritual exercise to imbibe moral or godly character and dissuade worldly pleasures.  This connotation still lingers on in most African nations. For example, in Nigeria, it is not new to witness sermons evangelising people to draw closer to God, shun sin and use a new year to run heavenly race.

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 However, the New Year Resolution has grown beyond the purview of aspiring to yield more farm produce, be more knightly or intensify spiritual values. This era, a vain ambition to lose weight, imbibe self discipline or be more adventurous with ones’ love life can become anyone’s New Year Resolution.

What You Should Do? 

New Year Resolution should be firm a decision to do something or to refrain from behaviours that does not make us the best version of us.  It’s more like a to-do list, target, goal, aspiration, intentions, desires, needs etc to accomplish within 365 days.

It could be a short term resolution with a deadline in each month of the year, a long resolution which would be measured at the finale of a year. It is advisable to set a resolution that resonates with one self and not pressurised to set similar resolutions with friends and families. A resolution has better chances of being accomplished when it is backed up with concrete actions on how to achieve it and a deadline to measure the progress track.

In a survey published in discover happy habits in 2022, only 4 percent of  people in the US record success of their New Year Resolution after 6 months.  The most New Year Resolution for 2022 was about living healthier which stood at 23 percent; personal development and happiness at 21 percent and losing weight at 20 percent.

Instead of going all big and drafting mountainous resolutions to become a size 10 at the end of the year, aspire to fit into your clothes, eat healthier, exercise more etc. If you want to become a billionaire, do not explicitly hunt big business ideas to turn you into one overnight but embrace skills and knowledge that makes you financially intelligent- save more, spend less, learn a top-high demand skill, start a side hustle, apply for lucrative job roles. At the end of year , your account statement would be better than what you started off with and eventually you can be that billionaire someday.   

Also, for those who do not desire to change anything about them but are fixated on maintaining the life they have created for themselves; it is still a significant ambition. Do everything to maintain your balance. Avoid being swayed into carrying the New Year Resolution placards when you don’t have intentions to resolve to do anything differently.

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