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Julius Caesar and the beginning of the NYE resolution

Posted on: January 22nd, 2016 by grandave No Comments

That’s right, the infamous Caesar can partly be credited with the celebration of New Year’s Eve as we know it today. In 153 B.C. the Greek calendar was altered to include Janus, god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. Janus is always depicted with two faces: one facing the front and one facing the back. At the end of every calendar year, the Romans were sure that Janus was looking back at the old year and forward in to the new.

Flash to almost a century later when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that divided the seasons far better than previous years. Just as it does currently, New Year’s Eve now fell on December 31st and the Romans started the tradition to exchange gifts for luck in the new year. Nuts, coins and branches from sacred trees were given to bring the recipient good fortune.

The celebration cannot be entirely credited to Greco Roman culture. Ancient Babylonians marked the turn of the New Year on March 23rd. The eve was celebrated by people resolving to return something borrowed from their neighbors in the outgoing year. Historians agree that this was the first New Year’s resolutions to be made.

Other important dates on the road to resolution: in 1722, Puritan theologian Johnathon Edwards wrote 70 mantras he asked his audience to read at least once per week. Many of these sayings become coming resolutions such as “never lose one moment of time” and “live with all my might.”

In 1738, Benjamin Franklin included a chapter on the importance of ridding ones’ self of old habits and making better choices in the year to come in Poor Richard’s Almanac.

So while you choose your resolutions for 2014, remember what Franklin wrote: “Each year one vicious habit rooted out, in time might make the worst man good throughout.”

Whatever your traditions for the incoming year, we wish you a happy and heathy 2014. Happy New Year, from Grand Avenue.

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