How New Year’s Resolutions Came to Be

By Zachary Harmuth

Celebrating the end of a year and the beginning of a new one- a day to ponder lessons from the past and hopeful plans for the future- is probably the oldest holiday.

Resolutions started at the same time, in a way.

Babylonians, some 4,000 years ago, celebrated the new year in March (after the Spring harvest) by stripping the king of his clothes and kicking him out of the city for 11 days- while they lived basically free from any of his rules, drank and ate to excess- and after letting him back in and giving him new clothes, they all swore oaths, or resolutions, to remain loyal to him.

Oh, and also, they believed breaking this oath would, more or less, destroy the world and humanity in a presumably very not fun way.

So, though the particulars may have evolved just a touch over time, if you think of a resolution as a promise to remain loyal to something in the future, here we are still at it in 2014 making resolutions.

Though luckily for us, the Babylonians were wrong on that whole breaking-your-oath apocalypse thing, considering that a 2013 University of Scranton study found that only about 8 percent of people who make resolutions keep them.

Which, really, is pretty inflated because, looking at several surveys, the number of Americans who made resolutions reached an all-time low in 2013. The lowest poll results, by CBS News, showed that about only 1 in 3 people even made one last year.

But, still, the resolutions Americans make stay pretty constant and simple over the years.

Some of the most common over the years, and in 2013-2014, were to lose weight, get organized, spend less or save more, and so on. Others in the top ten were less mundane and more hopeful. Such as to fall in love, or to do more good for others.

A few residents of Williamson County who made resolutions on New Year’s Day, when talked to for this article on the second day of 2014, had already broken their resolutions.

Ryan Jones of Franklin resolved to quit smoking.

“I lasted about two hours,” he said.

Chase Adeuyleta, of Brentwood, said he resolved to “never wear a bow tie,” something he has never done.

He added, however, that ultimately keeping his anti-bow tie vow will break his 2010 resolution to “never say never.”

Facing this dilemma, he said that perhaps next year he will make a resolution to not make any more resolutions.

Adeuyleta, upon some deliberation, said that he thinks the reason most people do not keep resolutions is because they are not magic.

“If you want to change a behavior, it takes more than just clicking your heels or snapping your fingers,” he said.

“To truly change is something a person has to work on; really, you should be working not wishing and doing it on the other 364 days of the year otherwise your resolution has just bout as much weight as the balloons and confetti that fly so high on New Year’s Eve but are always in the garbage, forgotten, in the morning.”