The New Year has a variety of meanings for different cultures, and these range from religious to secular practices. The Babylonians would pray to the gods for favour, luck, and a good harvest; in Russia, it is widely believed that the way that you spend New Year’s Day is indicative of how the rest of the year will go; in Scotland there is the tradition of the first-footing, which stems from the belief that the first person through the door should bring luck and prosperity into a household in the form of coal, bread, whiskey, and money.
The general theme of luck and change for the New Year persists in most cultures and traditions. The most common tradition is probably making a New Year’s resolution where you pose yourself the question, ‘what do I want for myself this year?’ or ‘who do I want to be?’ You are asked to identify the aspects of yourself that you want to change. But just as common of a tradition is not following through with these resolutions. The classic example is buying a year-long gym membership, going once, and then letting it lapse. It has been normalised to the point of becoming a joke as well as a standard practice and then making the same resolution the next year. Firstly, there’s no point in spending money on something that you will never use, and wasting the time and energy making the resolution only to feel bad if you don’t follow through. I mean, technically, nothing is wrong with this – people can do whatever they want, however irrational – but it cheapens the tradition and negates the point of making a resolution to begin with.
A friend of mine mentioned how resolutions force the idea that change needs to begin at the start of each year, instead of being gradual. And they’re right: self-improvement should not only be encouraged nor only start at the beginning of the year. Forcibly starting at the beginning of each year and completely changing something, instead of implementing gradual change, decreases the likeliness of following through. It’s much harder to get used to and it requires a lot more effort than implementing small changes over a longer period of time.
This desire to dramatically change seems to be exacerbated by the fact that we’re going into a new decade. This is a completely arbitrary sentiment in itself because a couple of hours does not really change anything. Don’t change just because it’s a new decade, change because you genuinely want things to be different. Pick a theme for this decade and stick with it because, whatever happens, it’s gonna be great.
[Katerina Partolina Schwartz – she/her – @katpschwartz]
[Photo credit: Gettyimages.com/Andre_Vogelaere]