The History of the New Year’s Resolution

by December 31, 2010 • 0 comments

Out of nowhere today, I was hit with the realization that this time last year I was in the middle of having a bonafide meltdown, partially freaked out over just giving birth to our first baby and partially zombiefied from the lack of sleep (see aforementioned newborn).  Adding to the hormonal mayhem, my Mom had just been admitted into Hospice and within the next 10 days, would pass away.

Needless to say, I was emotionally confused over entering 2010 and looking back, I think the one resolution I made, was to just put my head down, and keep moving towards a better tomorrow.

Now that  2010  is getting hit with the door on it’s numerical butt, I’m overjoyed with the possibilities of 2011. My renewed sense of enthusiasm is heightened with the knowledge that last year is about to become a fading light and finally, FINALLY, I can see what the whole New Year’s Eve Resolution *hubaloo is all about.

It’s about leaving the old behind and turning to face a new day with the world giving you a chance to leave the old, the ugly and the out-dated, behind.

Yet, being someone who’s obsessed with traditions, history and “where it all began” concepts, I’ve begun to wonder about the story behind the New Year’s traditions that we now just accept as normal.

Not so brief history lesson:

In the 18th century, New Year’s Eve revelry in cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore often ended with street demonstrations, violence, and vandalism.

To help curb the problem of over-zealous celebrators on December 31, and to protect those who want to bring in the New Year quietly, many cities in the United States started a popular trend called “The First Night” celebrations. The first “First Night” was held in Boston in 1976 to replace the boisterous partying with cultural events, performances, and  non-alcoholic beverages with food in an outdoor setting.

Auld Lang Syne is our midi.  The custom of singing this song on New Years Eve goes back to the British Isles from the 18th century when guests ended a party standing in a circle and singing this song.  The custom first was rooted in Scotland, because the lyrics were written in 1788 by Robert Burns, their favorite folk poet of the time.  (Later on another version of this song was used in 1783 in the opera “Rosina” by William Shield.) But most musicologists feel that Auld Lang Syne came from a traditional Scottish folk melody.

What does this song mean?  In the Scottish dialect, auld lang syne  is “old long since” — aka “the good old days.”

You can find more information here.

Interesting stuff there. As for resolutions, I’ve started to lay the ground work for things that I want to see happen, for things that will probably happen, and things that I KNOW I can make happen. Ironically, the list gets shorter as reality is called into question. What about you? Have you started planning any resolutions for the New Year?

* hubaloo- in Ryabonics, is a real word.

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