Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Promises, Promises

By now, many of you have probably started smoking again, given up on your diet and worst of all, stopped going to church. Ah, broken New Year’s resolutions.

What are New Year’s resolutions? Or, is it New Year resolutions? How did we ever get into that good habit? When did all this “promises made, promises broken” begin?

First of all, the celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23, although they themselves had no written calendar. (Don’t ask)

The tradition of the New Year's celebrations , however, doesn’t go back quite that far but does go back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.

The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. Depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back, he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new. The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune.( Try that today. Good luck!)

In the Middle Ages, Christians changed New Year's Day to December 25, the birth of Jesus. Then they changed it to March 25, a holiday called the Annunciation. In the sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar, and the celebration of the New Year was returned to January 1. (

From primitive man to today, New Year’s Day has been recognized as a day on which rites were done to abolish the past so there could be a rejuvenation ( a changing) for the New Year. Although the date for New Year's Day is not the same in every culture, it is always a time for celebration and for customs to ensure good luck in the coming year. There is no record of making “resolutions” to do better but, there was a strong implication to improve behavior caused by the looking ahead.

OK. Breaking bad habits is one thing, but why not begin again a good habit that, for whatever reason, you stopped. Gym? Daily walks? Being nice? (Am I’m getting warm? ) Praying? Attending church? Ah, yes. In many ways, going back to church is more difficult than staying away from cigarettes and too much food. (Doing ‘bad’ is always easier than doing ‘good’. Ever notice that?)

It’s not the end of the world if you’ve broken your promises to yourselves, your resolutions, to stop smoking or overeating. But, it could be the end of your future world, figuratively speaking, of course, if you stopped praying and/or going to church.

The condition of our soul is infinitely more important than the condition of our body. That’s not to say that we should be careless with our physical well being, but that we should be just as careful with the condition of our souls.

So, if you have returned to the gym, started your diet or thrown away your cigarettes, your physical body will be grateful. But, if you’ve returned to church, the gym for your spiritual body, if you will, and begun to pray again, your soul will be eternally grateful.


Happy New Year.

Until next time....