For centuries people have been celebrating the New Year, but how did this tradition come to be? It is believed to have begun in ancient Babylonia some 4,000 years ago. At that time, the year began in mid-March when crops were planted, not in January as it does today. During a 12-day festival, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They made promises to their gods to pay their debts and return borrowed objects. They believed if they kept their resolutions the gods would bestow favor upon them. If not, they would fall out of favor.
In ancient Rome, around 46 B.C., Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year. January held special significance for the Romans as it was named after the two-faced god Janus who symbolically looked backwards into the previous year, and forward into the coming year. The Romans made promises of good conduct for the coming year and offered sacrifices to Janus.
In 1740 English clergyman John Wesley created the Covenant Renewal Service, which was held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. These services evolved into what is known today as watch night which serves as a religious or spiritual alternative to celebrate the coming of the new year.
In 1904 the first New Year’s celebration was held in Times Square. Earlier that year, the New York Times newspaper relocated to what was known as Longacre Square and convinced the city to change the name of the neighborhood. At the end of the year, the newspaper’s owner threw a party with an over-the-top fireworks display, and the tradition began.
In 1907 New York City banned fireworks so young immigrant, Jacob Starr, designed a wood-and-iron ball illuminated with 100 light bulbs and weighing 700 pounds to be lowered from a flag pole at midnight on New Year’s Eve. That tradition has been carried on for over 110 years. And today the Times Square Ball has evolved to contain more than 32,000 LED’s that can produce 16 million colors and billions of patterns.
The notion of dropping a ball to mark the passage of time dates to 1833 when at England’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich the first “time-ball” was installed. At one o’clock each afternoon the ball would drop to allow the captains of the nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers.
There have only been two years since 1907 that the Ball has not been lowered in Times Square. In 1942 and 1943 the ceremony was suspended due to the wartime “dimout” of lights in New York City. However, not even an official suspension of festivities could stop the crowds from gathering to greet the New Year. These new years were greeted with a minute of silence followed by the ringing of chimes from sound trucks at the base of the tower.
For over 4,000 years, people have been resolving to do better in the new year. From resolving to return items you have borrowed or pay your debts, to losing weight or living more mindfully the new year provides a new opportunity to resolve to be better.
40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Some of the most popular resolutions include saving money, losing weight or getting in better shape, to travel or read more. Unfortunately, 80% of resolutions will fail by the second week of February and only 8% will keep their resolutions.
How can you successfully achieve your resolutions? Know that you don’t have to go it alone. Get help! Whether it’s an online course to help you learn something new, a partner to go to the gym with, a book club to keep you reading, a financial planner or a wellness coach, know that you don’t have to go it alone.
If your resolutions for 2019 include living a more natural, holistic lifestyle, Native Remedies can help. With all-natural herbal supplements and homeopathic remedies, Native Remedies delivers products that are safer, better, and free of negative side effects, naturally. Since 2002 Native Remedies has been offering the best natural, safe, and effective remedies on the market today. We’ve grown a lot from those early days. But our mission, values, and commitment to providing natural health support remain the same, and strong as ever.
Happy New Year!
BY MARY ELLEN KOSANKE