New Year’s resolutions are a tradition in a lot of countries, among many societies and civilizations around the world; in theory, a ‘resolution’ is someone’s honest decision to display or continue good practices, change an unsatisfactory one, work towards reaching a personal goal or improve one’s overall life or lifestyle using the first day of the new year as ‘step one’ of that process.
This tradition dates back to Antiquity (20th century BC) when Babylonians used to promise their gods that they would pay back debts accumulated throughout the year and return borrowed items to their rightful owners; how nice it would be that these two promises alones were on everyone’s list in 20th century AD! Later, in Jesus’ years, at the initiative of Julius Cesar who reformed the Roman calendar, Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus (for whom the month of January is named), a two-face god who could simultaneously review the past and foresee the future. In Medieval times, during the last feast of the Christmas week, the knights, one by one, would place their hands on a live or roasted peacock and recommit themselves, for the next 12 months, to the ideals of chivalry and to their king.
Although probably initiated in the Christian world, the tradition has many other religious parallels: during Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, culminating in the Yom Kippur, one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness, a concept very comparable to Christians’ Lent season; in the Islamic tradition, everyone is expected to demonstrate a resolve to reject every temptation unauthorized by Allah.
In our modern times and world, in the 1920-1930 years of the Great Depression, only +/- 25% of North Americans formed New Year’s resolutions; now in the 21st century, percentage stands at between 40-50%; of this 50% group, only 12% admit in a survey that they were able to reach their objective and respect their original resolution; among those who didn’t or couldn’t, most realized that these resolutions were too ambitious while 25% admitted that they either forgot or dropped them altogether.
As you can easily suppose (probably because they were some of your own…), most popular ‘standard’ resolutions include: losing weight, get back into shape, better financial management, work seriously at being promoted, improve your skills and education, become a ‘new and improved’ person, eat healthy foods, stop smoking, and bla-bla-bla, and bla-bla-bla: the list could keep getting longer and nothing would be a surprise because you have seen it before, heard it before, tried it before and (as percentages tend to prove), failed at it before. Surprisingly, psychologists state that many of us gave up on taking resolutions during pandemic while they also point out that they would have been very beneficial in helping us coping with stress, uncertainty, depression; resolutions help us organize, discipline and assess ourselves and our life. In today’s world, most people now make resolutions only to themselves and focus purely on self-improvement as we have become more self-centered by opposition to community-centered/world-centered.
As far as ‘hopes’ and ‘wishes’ are concerned, allow me to keep my personal ones private other than to say that my first granddaughter will be born in April and that I wish my daughter and her partner the same joys I experienced when I became a father and that I still experience today. It goes without saying that I hope this pandemic situation comes under control and to an end, not only in our rich and lucky ‘first world’ country of Canada, but in ‘third world’ countries around the world. I wish our local political leaders can put their ‘toxic’ differences aside and make the next ten months or so before municipal elections a productive session. I wish local small businesses survive pandemic financial losses and I pledge to offer them my support and make them my first option. The Harden group, a local group and owner has been very good to us these last few years by bringing renowned franchises such as St-Hubert and Winners to our door; my wish for 2022 is for an Indigo bookstore to join our commercial life! In closing, allow us all at the Regional to wish you all a Happy New Year and to tell you, paraphrasing Frank Sinatra’s quote, that ‘The best is yet to come!’