New Year’s Resolution Week runs from January 1 to 7 every year. This holiday’s timing is great because the New Year is often seen as a time of new beginnings and reflection. Before the year even begins, people recall all their notable accomplishments and memories, the good and the bad. Many look back disappointed with their lack of progress, realizing the days flew by and their to-do list went unchecked. The first thing people do to celebrate the new year is mark all the things they want to get done or all the things they want to do differently this time.
History of New Year’s Resolutions Week
The tradition of celebrating the start of the year began about 5,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt. They celebrated ‘Wepet Renpet (opening of the year) in midsummer during the annual flooding of the Nile River as this meant their lands would be fertile. Though there’s no evidence they made any resolutions, they celebrated as we do now, with alcohol and food. It was later that traditions surrounding this holiday became non-secular.
The first people known to make New Year’s resolutions are ancient Babylonians. They resolved to pay back debts and return borrowed objects. It was even more important for Babylonians to keep their resolutions as they were making them not to themselves but to the gods. Failing yourself is one thing, but breaking a promise you made to a god is a toughie. Ancient Romans celebrated the new year as well.
It was Julius Caesar who altered the calendar, naming the first month of January after the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings, transitions, time, and endings. All in all, a suitable name for the start of the year. Similar to the Babylonians, ancient Romans made promises to the gods. These promises revolved around behaving well and performing good deeds.
Celebrating the new year was popularized by Christian Methodists who revolved the holiday around religion. In 1755, John Wesley — an English clergyman — created the Covenant Renewal Service. The service is held on the first Sunday where people read scripture, sing hymns, and say prayers from the Methodist Worship Book. The purpose of this is to renew and strengthen your faith in God.
These days we view New Year’s as a secular holiday, going out and throwing parties. We promise to change not to our pagan gods but ourselves. Most New Year’s resolutions revolve around self-improvement, though many are unsuccessful.
New Year’s Resolutions Week timeline
Ancient Egyptians celebrate the beginning of a new year, though there’s no evidence they made any resolutions.
Ancient Babylonians are the first people to make New Year’s resolutions.
Julius Caesar creates a calendar where the first month is named January after the Roman god Janus.
Christian Methodists hold a service on the first Sunday of the year to renew their faith.
New Year’s Resolutions Week FAQs
What is the common New Year's resolution?
Self-improvement and living healthier.
Why do New Year’s resolutions fail?
People often set unrealistically high expectations of themselves. They then expect their efforts to pay off within the first month.
How many resolutions are kept?
The statistics differ. About 35% keep their resolutions, 49% keep some of their resolutions, and 16% fail at keeping any of their resolutions.
New Year’s Resolutions Week Activities
Make a resolution
Many of us have given up making New Year’s resolutions to avoid the embarrassment of realizing nothing’s going to change. To break that cycle, this year, make goals that are completely realistic.
Make commitments you can’t undo
Buy a gym membership, and go shopping for healthier food choices. It’s easier to stick to those commitments than waste your money.
Party and be merry
The most important resolution you can make on New Year’s is to start it right. Host a get-together in your home or hit the club. Having a good time will give you the motivation you need to stick to your resolutions.
5 Fascinating Facts About New Year's Days
Most people give up by February
The number of people keeping their resolutions goes down every week with about 80% completely giving up on their resolutions by February.
Nearly half of Americans make yearly resolutions
About 45% of Americans consistently make New Year’s resolutions every year.
Each country has strange traditions
The Spanish attempt to eat 12 grapes, one for each stroke of midnight, the Danish throw plates against their front door, and the Estonians attempt to eat a lucky number of meals.
The color of your underwear matters
Latinos wear yellow underwear for good luck and Italians looking for love wear red on New Year's Eve.
New Year’s Day and car theft
New Year's Day is one of the holidays when vehicles are most likely to be stolen.
Why We Love New Year’s Resolutions Week
You can hold yourself accountable
If you’ve been struggling with some bad habits and don’t feel good about yourself, this is the time to reflect on these things. Time to stop guilt-tripping yourself and set a plan to reach your goal.
It’s a good time to restart
Ever get a burst of motivation and start making all these plans only to wake up uninterested the following morning? Well, there’s no better time to start than a new year.
Everyone is on the same boat
You’re not the only one making resolutions and struggling to keep them. Discuss your plans with your friends and keep yourselves in check.
New Year’s Resolutions Week dates