Celebrating the New Year Past and Present

Whether you make New Year’s resolutions or you don’t, you’ve got to wonder – who started the whole New Year’s Resolution thing, and why? The practice of making resolutions at the start of each new year is thought to have been started by the ancient Babylonians. It was thought that making promises to do good things during the year ahead would bring favors from the gods.

What kinds of resolutions were popular in ancient Babylon? Surprisingly, one common resolution from way back then is just as popular today – to pay back debts. Were any Babylonians resolving to lose weight? Not that I know of. The other common resolution attributed to ancient Babylonians was to return borrowed farm equipment.

Since New Year’s resolutions are typically quite personal, you may not know that much about the New Year’s resolutions of your ancestors. Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to have their diaries or journals. Treasured artifacts like diaries and journals can help to bring life to your family history by adding details about who your ancestors were and how they lived. Details like how your ancestors celebrated the New Year, whether they made resolutions, and what those resolutions were can be very interesting.

If you are spending New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day with family, why not ask about how your relatives celebrated the New Year in the past. Did any of your relatives ever attend the celebrated ball drop in Times Square? How about New Year’s birthdays, are there any relatives with birthdays on January 1?

While I have never ventured to Times Square to see the ball drop, some New Year’s memories that I have include attending First Night celebrations in Worcester, Massachusetts with my dad in the freezing cold. Somehow, even though my sister and I were young, we always seemed to be able to stay up until midnight. My mom was born in Texas, and she would sometimes make Hoppin’ John on New Year’s day.

What are your favorite family New Year’s memories?

Photo by Mike73 on morguefile.com.

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