We’re only about a week into 2018: how are your New Year’s resolutions going so far? It’s tough to stick to them, but hang in there, we’ve got another 51 weeks to go!

With all this talk about improving ourselves, have you ever wondered why we even have New Year’s resolutions in the first place?

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I think most people would be surprised to learn that this tradition goes all the way back to the ancient Babylonians. The earliest recorded celebration of a new year was about 4,000 years ago in Babylon. Calendars were obviously different back then, and the new year was celebrated in late March during the first moon after the Spring Equinox. The celebration lasted 11 days and centered around the rebirth of the sun god Marduk. The Babylonians wanted to start their new year the right way, and so they made promises that they believed would please their gods.

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This practice of making New Year’s resolutions caught on and continued with the Romans. Julius Caesar changed the calendar when the previous Roman calendar no longer synced up with the sun. After consultation with mathematicians and astronomers, Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, which was closer to the calendar we use today and recognized January 1 as the first day of the year to honor Janus, the god of new beginnings. The Romans began each new year by offering sacrifices to Janus.

Julius Caesar
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The tradition of starting anew each year and hoping to improve one’s life continues to this day. So just remember when you’re in the gym trying to lose weight that your participating in a practice that goes back 4,000 years. And if you don’t live up to your resolutions…oh well, there’s always next year.

Photo Credit: Flickr, bradleyolin

h/t: Mental Floss