New Year’s Resolutions: A lasting tradition

“Happy New Year 2022” // wuestenigel via

With the new year comes the age-old tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. This custom has a much longer history than most people realize. 

According to, New Year’s resolutions began 4,000 years ago with the ancient Babylonians. Their new year started in mid-March, and they would make promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. If they kept their promises, they believed that the gods would grant them favor for the new year, but if they didn’t, they would fall out of favor. 

According to, Julius Caesar changed the date to Jan.1 in 46 B.C. The month of January was significant to the Romans because it was named after Janus, the two-faced god who the Romans believed symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future. The Romans made promises and even sacrifices to Janus, hoping for a good year. 

In modern times, many make New Year’s resolutions to try to improve themselves in the new year. Some people do achieve their goals, and some give up within the first month. According to YouGovAmerica, nearly four in five Americans say that they are very or somewhat confident that they will be able to stick to their New Year’s resolutions, and about one-quarter of Americans say their New Year’s resolution was to live a more healthy life.

This goal of living a physically and mentally healthier life in the new year seems to resonate with some of the Guilford College community. 

“My New Year’s Resolution is to continue to be in the headspace I am and just allow myself to be happy and do things for me,” said Guilford junior and English major Sierra McCollum. “(My friend and I) hopefully will be dedicated to going to the gym, getting exercise, and just be(ing) more active because of Covid. Being focused on school for not just this semester, but also going forward is definitely a big one for me…Another resolution I have is learning more Spanish…Not knowing it growing up, I feel like it would fill a void that’s always been missing.” 

“My New Year’s resolution is putting myself first, and the reason why I made it is because last year I would always put myself second or third and I realized that wasn’t healthy for me, so this year my plan is to finally do things for myself and put everyone else in the backseat,” said junior and criminal justice major Tiara Martin. “If I want to do something I’m going to do it…If I don’t want to do something for somebody I’m going to finally say no.” 

Professor of English and Honors Program Director Heather Hayton commented on how the ongoing pandemic and feelings of exhaustion have affected her New Year’s resolutions.

“I did not make New Year’s resolutions this year,” said Hayton. “I normally do, and think they have helped me recommit to healthier behaviors like eating less fast food, or getting more exercise, or reading more books for joy instead of work. But like many of us, I hit a wall this last semester, and two years of pandemic have done me in. So I am intentionally focusing on only this for 2022: finding joy and wonder in the world as much as possible. I’m letting myself off the hook for a lot of things, and diving deep into my work (of learning) so I can re-find that joy or wonder. I sincerely hope that this will bring me more contentment and patience in a crazy, uncertain world. And if not, there are always next year’s resolutions!”

Hopefully, everyone will achieve their goals for this year and have a better year than the last.