Saturday, December 31, 2011
Who Started All This New Year's Resolution Stuff?
The first to celebrate the beginning of a new year was the Babylonians on the Vernal Equinox, March 20th (or 21st in some years), at around 2000 B.C. Besides being the first day of spring, this date has astrological significance. At exactly 7:21 pm EDT the sun crosses over the Earth's equator. Both day and night are of equal length, thus the name, Equinox - equal night.
It wasn't until the adoption of the solar based Julian Calendar by Rome in 46 B.C. that January 1 was designated as the first day of the new year. It remained until the Council of Taurs abolished the practice in the year 567. The counsel claimed the celebration was pagan and unchristian, and they set the new year on either December 25th, Christmas, March 1, the Annunciation, or on March 25, Easter.
In 1582 the Catholic Church adopted the Gregorian calendar and January 1st was reinstated as the beginning of the new year. The Protestants were slower to adopt the calender, holding out until 1752 when the British finally accepted it. Prior to that, Brittan, and its American colonies, celebrated the New Year in March.
As far as New Year's resolutions, it is the Babylonians we can blame for that tradition, then later, Christians implemented the year end practice of reflection on past mistakes and new year vows to improve.
The song, Auld Lang Syne, was first published by Robert Burns in 1796 after Burns heard the song in his Scottish hometown. The song was popularized by band leader Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians in 1929 after playing it at midnight on New Year's Eve during a party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.
The words, auld lang syne mean "old long since", or "times gone by." The song asks if old friends and times will be forgotten, and promises to remember people of the past with fondness. Very appropriate sentiments as the old year wanes and the new begins.
Following the ancient tradition of reflection, I think back this New Year's Eve to special moments with my friends and family, accept the hallmark changes, and look forward to things yet to come. Although there are still some unresolved issues (and there will always be), I feel I am at a far better position than at any other moment in my life. I have learned to have more faith and trust in God, my Father, and life is no longer one crises after another.
My only resolution this year: to continue to deepen my relationship with Him, and all the rest will magically fall in place.
Happy New Year!