TRIVIAL PURSUITS: When Did the Tradition of Making New Year’s Resolutions Begin?

By now, many people have made—and are trying to keep—New Year’s resolutions.

When did the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions begin?

The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago, according to They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the New Year—which started in mid-March at the time.

During a 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, they believed the gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor.

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