Whether it's a conversation with a friend, a word that is penned, or a craft that is made, everything we do leaves a stitch in the fabric of time. Join us as we investigate the stitches of the past and present...
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: ... a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7).
Have you ever wondered where the tradition of making New
Year’s resolutions came from?
Curious, I went searching for some answers to this question,
and was surprised by what I found. Making New Year’s resolutions didn’t begin
as secular practice, but started as a religious event.
Making New Year’s resolutions is believed to have started
with the ancient Babylonians, who made promises to their gods to return
borrowed objects, especially farm equipment, and pay any debts they owed. By
doing this they hoped to receive favor from the gods in the coming year. The
penalty for breaking the resolutions was stiffer than it is for us today,
because the Babylonians believed to dishonor their pledge meant the gods would
not look upon them with favor.
The practice of making promises to the gods carried over
into ancient Rome, where worshippers of the god Janus would offer resolutions
of good behavior to the two-faced deity of beginnings and ends, who looked
forward into the New Year and backward into the old one.
During Judaism’s New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah, and
through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement),
worshippers reflected upon their wrongdoings over the year and sought and
In Medieval times New Year’s resolutions for the knights of
chivalry took on a less religious, but still noble, meaning. At the end of the
year, knights took the “peacock vow” to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry
The New Year resolutions of Christians focused on God, too.
In fact, in 1740 the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, began watch night
services, which were meant for worshippers to sing, pray, reflect on the year,
and renew their covenant with God while they watched for the New Year to
arrive. This sort of service was common up until the late sixties. Celebrating
with fellow Christians in church was how I spent most of my New Years’ Eves as
Through the ages the religious aspect of New Year’s
resolutions has largely fallen by the wayside. Today instead of making promises
to deities and thereby seeking their favor, our New Year resolutions have
turned inward. According to statistics found in an article in the Oklahoma StatUniversity Newsline,
by end of 19th century most resolutions focused on good works. By the end of
the 20th century more focused on good looks and improving image, but
by the beginning of the 21st century resolutions had become even
The perceived penalty—disfavor of the gods—has also fallen
by the wayside, something most of us are grateful for, since over 80 percent of
us who make resolutions fail to keep them. This year, when you are making your
resolutions, perhaps you should consider falling back on the ancient tradition
that held you responsible to God when it came to keeping your resolutions. I’ll
bet if we thought about our New Year’s promises that way we might be more
likely to take care in what we pledge and work harder to achieve the goal.
No matter what you resolve to do in the coming year, spiritual
or material, I wish you success in the task and happiness in the months to