New year, new goal
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Jan. 2, 2011 at 7:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 1, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
The holidays are over and New Year's Day has come and gone. What's next? Making and keeping a New Year's resolution for 2011.
"I'm going to try and shop less and eat better," Janet Sardelich, of Victoria, said on her way into the Victoria Mall on Sunday afternoon with friend KayLynn Alford.
Alford said she was also resolving to be healthier in the new year, as well as work on renewing her attitude.
"I want to try not to be in a bad mood all the time," Alford, 26, said laughing. "I make resolutions every year, usually to lose weight and then I quit. But I've already started eating better and making more salads. The bad-mood thing probably won't last."
Sardelich and Alford are among approximately 45 percent of Americans who will resolve to get physically fit, work on personal growth, quit smoking and get organized for 2011, according to a 2005 study conducted by Stephen Shapiro, president of Goalfree.com, with the assistance of Opinion Research Corp., of Princeton N.J.
And while Sardelich doesn't typically make New Year's resolutions, she acknowledges their importance with the turn of each calendar year.
"I don't usually make a resolution, but they do give you a fresh start," she said. "I think they're a fun little gimmick, and that's why people do them."
It appears, however, the tradition of celebrating and pursuing resolutions around the turn of a new year have historical origins dating back 4,000 years ago to the ancient Babylonians.
History.com reports that in 2000 BCE, the Babylonians observed some of the first New Year's festivities near the vernal equinox in March, when the day emits equal hours of day and night hours. The new moon following the vernal equinox was celebrated with the festival of Akitu, which symbolically renewed the Babylonian ruler's divine mandate.
As annual calendars became more sophisticated through time, including Julius Caesar's decision to extend the 10-month Roman calendar to the 12-month Julian calendar in 45 BCE - which resembles the Gregorian calendars used today - New Year's celebrations shifted from March to January and yearly resolutions eventually became synonymous with the changeover.
It wasn't until 1738, with Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac," that modern-day New Year's traditions are formed. In the book, Franklin discusses the importance of making new habits, and throwing away old ones in the New Year, writing, "Each year one vicious habit rooted out, in time might make the worst man good throughout."
More than 250 years later, it appears resolution-makers Sardelich and Alford are continuing to follow Franklin's model.
But they're not alone. Shelly Larson, of Edna, said, "This year, I want to focus on what God has planned for my life. It's a season where people are searching to make changes, that's why people make resolutions. There's no better way to start a new year."
And Port Lavaca resident Sam Cuellar said he's directing his resolution towards academic pursuits.
"I want to finish up graduating," the 22-year-old Texas A&M anthropology student said. "I also want to spend more time with family, I know I need to do more of that."