The History of the New Year's Resolution

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Traditions

The custom of making New Year’s resolutions has been around for thousands of years, but it started much differently than the modern tradition.


Ancient Babylonia is where the New Year’s Resolution began. That was over 4,000 years ago! They also were the first people on record to celebrate the New Year.  Their New Year actually began in mid-March (when crops were planted). During a long 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts. These promises could be considered the very first New Year’s resolutions.


A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C.

 In 1740, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, invented a new type of church service. These services, called Covenant Renewal Services or watch night services, were held during the Christmas and New Year's season as an alternative to holiday partying. 


New Year's resolutions are now a non-religious custom, and most Americans who make them now focus on self-improvement. The U.S. government even maintains a website of those looking for tips on achieving some of the common resolutions: losing weight, stopping smoking, eating better, getting out of debt and saving money.

According to a recent study, as many as 45 percent of Americans say they make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. Don’t let that stop you though! The New Year is a great time to start fresh and get some things off your “to-do” list. Best of luck and Happy New Year!



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  1. Abby Stiller 12/28/2019 05:38 PM
Just for Fun

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Abby Stiller
REMAX Realty Group - Cape Coral, FL
Professional Bilingual Realtor (239) 284-8637

Hi Elaine VonCannon Thanks so much for sharing the History of the new year's resolution. I never have one but I do write my goals for the year . 

Wishing you the best in 2020!

Dec 28, 2019 05:27 PM #1
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Elaine VonCannon thanks for the education about the history of the New Year's resolution.

Dec 28, 2019 06:16 PM #2
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Elaine loved the history, now from my perspective I never make a New Year Resolution... not a fan of failure:)Endre

Dec 28, 2019 08:54 PM #3
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Elaine... loved the history "lesson." But that being said... I consider New Year an artificial time to make resolutions. I make resolutions to improve, as when I need to... less chance of failure when you don't impose some man-made schedule on it.

Dec 29, 2019 07:15 AM #4
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Elaine, thank for your sharing, had not known.   I used to make resolutions years and years ago, but not for quite some time.

Dec 29, 2019 09:25 AM #5
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