Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 12:44 am | Mostly Cloudy 52º


Rae Largura: The Tradition of the New Year’s Resolution

“In 2014, I will lose weight, volunteer to help others, quit smoking, get a better education and get a better job.”USA.gov

If you molded your list of new year’s resolutions after the government’s web suggestions, you would certainly be busy in the coming year. Those top five “most popular” goals for 2014 were accompanied by some other grand lifestyle-changing pledges to manage stress, reduce debt and get fit, etc.

The new year’s resolution has become ingrained as a part of our culture, like decorating the Christmas tree or writing cheesy love poems on Valentine’s Day. However, unlike the latter, ringing in the new year with a resolution is not the concept of modern American culture.

The tradition dates back 4,000 years to around 2000 B.C. when Babylonians held festivals in March celebrating the turn of an unsullied new year. It was seen as an annual opportunity to promise their gods to pay off debts or return borrowed items.

The ritual was continued by the Romans with an alteration: Julius Caesar, in his reign, changed the first day of the year to Jan. 1 in honor of Janus, the Roman God of beginnings. The Romans then added a moral spin, with resolutions of better conduct toward others.

But when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its official religion, things looked bleak for the January new year’s resolution, due to Janus being a Pagan God. It wasn’t until 1852, when Pope Gregory XIII introduced today’s standard Gregorian calendar, that Jan. 1 was truly cemented as the first day of the year.

Jump ahead a couple hundred years later, and new year’s resolutions seemingly have grown more and more difficult to accomplish (a study by the University of Washington found that in the last decade, 80 percent of Americans give up on their goal after two months). Whereas past resolution traditions focused on performing good deeds or completing obligations, many of today’s resolutions involve expansive vows to create new habits and change lifestyle patterns.

This type of personal transformation is certainly difficult to achieve. Psychologically, it might be easier to accomplish a specific goal rather than adopting a large and vague goal. Then of course, we could always take a chapter out of the Roman’s book and simply resolve to treat people kindly — although you don’t need the new year to do that.

Any subject, any grade: What is your question for a tutor? Email [email protected]. Ask a Tutor runs biweekly.

— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >