Another year stands on the threshold, waiting for the Times Square ball to drop, which means it’s time for that annual tradition – making resolutions. How long has this practice been going on, and where did it begin?
In the 1925 book, The Customs of Mankind, author Lillian Eichler wrote: “In ancient England it was the custom to clean out the chimneys on New Year’s Day so that luck could descend and, of course, remain all year. With us it is customary to speak of ‘cleaning the slate’ and making good resolutions so the ‘slate’ will remain clean throughout the year.”
In The Year’s Festivals, written in 1903, author Helen Patten noted that “some make the effort to shake themselves free from their old year’s garment, worn and tattered and patched, in exchange for one which they hope to wear unspotted for a twelvemonth.”
At about that same time, an article in Will Carleton’s Magazine poured a bit of cold water on such optimism. The author noted: “Some people have a regular practice of making New Year resolutions – generally shattering them before January has hidden its cold head out of sight.”
So, whether or not you make resolutions, and whether they wind up tattered or unspotted, we wish you all the best in the coming twelvemonth. In the words of contemporary British author Neil Gaiman: “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”