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Front Page » January 7, 2002 » Local News » Exploring New Year's history, traditions
Published 5,019 days ago

Exploring New Year's history, traditions

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Staff writer

The New Year's celebration is the oldest of all holidays and was first observed in ancient Babylon nearly 4,000 years ago.

Although the Babylonians celebrated the beginning of the new year, the holiday was not recognized until what is now March 23.

Because the ancient Babylonians had no written calendar, it is speculated that the new year celebration took place at this time because of the coming of a new season, spring.

With new crops and newborn animals appearing at this time of the year, it is suspected that this symbolized the beginning of a new life and of course, a new year.

The Romans caught on to the annual celebration established by the Babylonians and continued to observe the new year in March.

Because the calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors in order to create a time-keeping method synchronized with the sun, the Romans eventually declared Jan. 1 the beginning of the new year in 153 BC.

By 1600, many western nations adopted a revised time line called the Gregorian calendar which is still used today.

The Gregorian calendar restored the Jan. 1 date as the beginning of the new year and many nations continue to celebrate the occasion at the same.

Although the date for the new year has become a standard, many different cultures celebrate the coming of the new year according to their religion.

In fact, the Jewish new year is a solemn occasion called Rosh Ha-shanah and is observed during September or early October.

The Hindus Muslims use a calendar that has 354 days in most years.

As a result, the Muslim new year falls on different dates from year to year on the Gregorian calendar.

Jan. 1 has now become the traditional day to celebrate the coming of a new year.

Although the date has no astronomical or agricultural significance, Jan. 1 has become the arbitrary day to celebrate a new beginning.

Throughout the years, new year's celebrations and traditions have evolved and have gone through many different changes.

One of the earliest traditions began when the ancient Romans started giving each other gifts of branches from sacred trees.

In later years, the Romans gave gold-covered nuts or coins imprinted with pictures of Janus, the god of gates, doors and beginnings.

In fact, January was named after Janus who had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward.

The ancient Persians gave new year's gifts of eggs which symbolized productiveness while the Celtic priests of what is now England gave the people branches of mistletoe which was considered sacred at that time.

Another old New Year's custom involved using the Bible to predict what would happen in the coming year.

People would choose a passage of the Bible at random then they would apply this passage to the coming months of the new year.

Most recent traditions surrounding the holiday include making noise with guns or other noise devices.

New Year's Eve parties have also become a customary American tradition with the gathering of a large crowd at Times Square in New York City becoming the most popular of all parties in the United States.

But now that the parties and celebrations have ended, it is time for Carbon County citizens to kick off New Year's resolutions.

Making resolutions has become a popular tradition across the world and dates back to the early days of the Babylonians who created the holiday so many years ago.

Although many resolutions are made, most people do not carry through and the goals end up failing come the end of the year, sometimes even before the first week in January has concluded.

In order to stop the cycle of failing to keep New Year's resolutions, local residents may want to consider following several suggestions.

Designed to help ensure that most New Year's resolutions will become a reality, the recommendations include.

•Be realistic.

The surest way to fall short of a goal is to make the goal unattainable.

For example, resolving to never eat a favorite dessert again could be a bad idea.

Strive for a goal that is attainable.

•Plan ahead.

Don't make a resolution at the last minute because it's the thing to do the day before the new year arrives.

Instead, carefully plan out a resolution which will suit one's personal needs throughout the entire year, not just for a week or so.

•Outline the plan.

Decide how to deal with the temptation to skip the exercise class or just have one more cigarette.

The process could include calling a friend for help or practice positive thinking and self-talk.

•Make a pro and con list regarding the goal.

It may help to see a list of items on paper to keep the motivation strong.

Develop the list over time and ask others to contribute.

Keep the list and refer to it when help is needed to follow through with the original plan.

•Talk about it.

Don't keep the resolution a secret. Tell friends and family who will support the idea throughout the course of the resolution.

•Reward efforts toward meeting the goal.

People should not break the resolution, but should treat themselves to something enjoyable as they make progress toward achieving the goal.

•Track progress.

Keep track of each small success that is made toward reaching the goals which are set.

•Don't stress.

Obsessing over the occasional slip won't help to achieve the goal.

People should take a resolution one day at a time.

•Stick to the resolution.

Experts indicate that it takes about 21 days for a new activity such as exercise to become a habit and six months for the behavior to become integrated as part of an individual's personality.

•Keep trying.

If a resolution has ran out of steam by the end of the month, people should not worry and give up on accomplishing the goal.

Instead, people should start working again on fulfilling the goal.

There is no reason why a resolution cannot be made any other day of the year besides New Year's.

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