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New year’s resolutions history, statistics, and fun facts

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!
Photo from stuart Miles/

Were you one of the 45% of Americans who usually make New Year’s resolutions? Whether you are or not, how much do you know about their history, statistics, and general “fun facts?”

Historians claim celebrating the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. The history of their observance has two conflicting accounts. While both agree, its origin dates back to ancient times, some say it begins with the Babylonians (approximately 4,000 years ago), while others believe it came from the Romans (in approximately 153 B.C.)

The origin that credits the Babylonians stems from their religious practices. At the beginning of every year, they made vows to their gods promising they would return all borrowed items and repay every debt. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that were a ritual of today’s societies?)

The roots acknowledging the Roman influence are also religious in nature. They’re based on their god, Janus, who was always depicted with two faces. That made him the perfect symbol to start a new year. This placement put him in a strategic position to look back and see the old year while, at the same time, to peer forward to view the new one ahead. That’s why they named their first month after him, January.

The U.S. government listed their top five current resolutions. They are lose weight, volunteer to help others, quit smoking, get an improved education, and acquire a better job. The University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology also enumerated theirs. They are lose weight, get organized, spend less and save more, enjoy life to the fullest, and stay fit and healthy.

Continuing through ten (using the same two sources), the U. S. government listed more top resolutions. They are: get fit, eat healthier, manage stress, control debt, and take a trip. The next corresponding set from the University of Scranton are: learn something exciting, quit smoking, help others achieve their dreams, fall in love, and spend more time with family.

As you can see, there are sweeping similarities as well as diverse differences between these group findings. A few are immediately obvious, revealing the source of one group as being in a much younger age group. This tells us resolutions can and do change as the makers age and/or experience different circumstances.

New Year’s resolutions have been around for a very long time. Their longevity says a lot about their importance.

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