Well, it’s that time of the year again, when everyone starts deciding to improve themselves for the next twelve months. Do you know, over half of those resolutions don’t last the first twelve hours? And who said that 1 January was New Year anyway – apart from calendar and diary manufacturers?
The fact is, New Year’s Day can be whenever you want it to be. Different religions celebrate their New Year at different times; for Christians, it’s 1 January, but for Jews, it’s some time in September and about a month later for Islam. The ancient Celtic New Year was Yule, 21 December – the shortest day bringing the rebirth of the sun, hence the twelve days of celebration that followed.
Ever wondered why the financial year starts on 5 April? Well, traditionally rents were paid on Lady Day, 25 March; but when the Julian calendar was replaced with the Gregorian, eleven days were lost – and tenant farmers protested that they were paying rent for eleven days they had not had the benefit of. So the rent day was moved to account for those missing days – hence, 5 April.
The Ancient Babylonians celebrated their New Year with the vernal equinox, 21 March, when the sun rose in the constellation of Aries – which is why the Zodiac starts there, and not in the middle of Sagittarius, when the calendar starts.
So you see, this New Year’s resolution malarky is all a bit arbitrary. Personally, I start my New Year on my birthday – it’s technically correct and it usually means that the fads have had chance to die a death. And besides, if you’re going to resolve to do something on the basis of the calendar, you really don’t want to do it and it’s doomed to failure anyway.
So here’s to not making any resolutions – but let’s hope that 2016 is memorable for all the right reasons!