Did you know?
New Year’s resolutions may not have much staying power, but the tradition of making them is an enduring one that dates back thousands of years.
According to History.com, ancient Babylonians are credited with being the first people to make New Year’s resolutions. During Akitu, a 12-day religious festival, the Babylonians would make promises to their gods, and these promises typically focused on being a better person in the coming year.
Celebrants of the festival, which was held when crops were planted, a time that marked the beginning of a new year to individuals in certain ancient societies, would promise the gods that they would repay their debts and return any items they had borrowed in the previous year.
While these promises might have been the forerunners to modern New Year’s resolutions, there is one distinct difference that separates ancient Babylonians from people in modern times.
Babylonians believed keeping their word to the gods would curry favor for them in the coming year, while failure to keep their promises would do the opposite.
People who make resolutions today typically do so to better themselves and do not fear reprisal from their creator if they fail to live up to their pledges.
That’s likely a good thing, as various reports suggest that as much as 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by the second week of February.