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New-Year Resolutions

People around the world like to make new-year resolutions: lose weight, stop drinking, quit smoking, become more active, and engage in a new hobby, etc. Notably, the tradition of new-year resolutions came from four millennia ago, far older than the establishment of the festival.

When the Babylonians made the historic first resolutions, they often had practical agricultural or economic concerns -- like repaying debts or returning borrowed farm equipment to receive harvests bestowed by the gods. Akitu, a 12-day festival to celebrate the renewal of life, kicked off the agrarian year. Similar in mindset, the ancient Egyptians wished for good fortune and abundance, making sacrifices to Hapi, the god of the Nile, at the beginning of their year in July when the Nile’s annual flood started a fertile period.

Emperor Julius Caesar designated January 1st New Year’s Day, naming the month of January after Janus, the god of beginnings and endings. The Romans prayed and confessed in order to reinforce their values and beliefs.

Modern-day new-year resolutions have lost their religious implications, but maintain the cleansing/catharsis overtones. Today, we still like to have a clean slate around the New Year’s. New-year resolutions are common in countries like America, Canada, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Australia, and South Africa, while Latin American, Scandinavian, Asian and Eastern European countries have their own versions of festivities.

In Poland, New Year’s Eve is “St. Sylvester’s Eve” because Pope Sylvester captured a dragon and prevented the doom of the world. Estonians eat 7, 9, or 12 times on New Year’s Eve, but leave some food for the dead ancestors and spirits who come visit on New Year’s Eve. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, people prepare fireworks, go to concerts, and give gifts from Dyed Mraz (Father Frost) for the kids. Russians’ new-year resolutions often focus on education. The Chinese/Korean New Year is between January 21st and February 20th according to the lunar calendar. People wear new clothes to start the year fresh and new.

From ancient to modern days, from the East to the West, the beginning of the year is the time to celebrate and to set important goals. Universal hopes and dreams often relate to good health, love, career, finance, and education. No matter how one led his or her life before, a better self or way of living is in the making. Have a happy and prosperous new year, everybody!

新年新希望

全世界的人都喜欢在新的一年开始时作出新的决议:减肥,戒酒、戒烟、积极生活、从事一项新的嗜好等等。值得注意的是,新年新希望的传统早在四千年前便开始,可称历史悠久。

当巴比伦人作出具有历史意义的第一项新年新决议时,他们往往定心于切实的农业或经济问题 -- 如偿还债务或返还借用的农场设备来接收神赋予的丰富收成。 Akitu是一个为时12 天的庆祝活动,用以揭开新年序幕。古埃及人具有类似的思维方式,在新年之际向Hapi 之神拜祭牺牲、祈求好运和丰收,时值7月一年之初、也是尼罗河泛滥肥沃的时期。

罗马的凯撒大帝指定 1月 1 为元旦,依随Janus之名命名1月为 JANUARY。 罗马人的新年新决议通常与加强价值观和宗教信仰有关。

现代人的新年新希望已不具宗教意味,但保持了清洗/ catharsis 的色彩。 今天,我们仍渴求在新的一年开始时能有新的开始 。 世界各国也保有新年新希望的习俗,如美利坚合众国、加拿大、英格兰、威尔士、苏格兰、北爱尔兰、澳洲、南非、斯堪的纳维亚,而拉丁美洲、亚洲和东欧国家则有些差异、其新年庆祝活动可谓展现各自的习俗。

在波兰,除夕是圣 西尔维斯特节,因为教皇西尔维斯特擒拿了龙,并阻止了世界末日的降临。 爱沙尼亚人在除夕时飨宴 7 、 9 或 12顿,但保留了一些粮食给死去的祖先,以便其在除夕之际造访。 在波斯尼亚和黑塞哥维那、人们准备烟花爆竹、前往音乐盛会,并赠送礼物给小孩。 俄罗斯人的新年新希望通常侧重于教育。 中国/韩国的新年根据农历于 1月和 2月之间庆祝,人们穿着新衣裳,除旧布新、祈求福泰安康。

从古代到现代,从东方到西方,在年初的时候,人们喜爱庆祝和设置重要的目标。 普遍的希望和梦想往往涉及到身体健康、爱情、事业、金融、教育等。 无论以往如何生活,人人皆希望达到一个更好的自我或生活方式。 在此谨祝大家有一个幸福和繁荣的新的一年!

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