The History of New Year's Resolutions
The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.
With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.
The New Year has not always begun on January 1, and it doesn't begin on that date everywhere today. It begins on that date only for cultures that use a 365-day solar calendar. January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had.
The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new. The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts
Auld Lang Syne
The song, "Auld Lang Syne," is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English- speaking country in the world to bring in the New Year. In spite of the popularity of 'Auld Lang Syne', it has aptly been described as the song that nobody knows. Even in Scotland, hardly a gathering sings it correctly, without some members of the party butchering the words.
Written by Robert Burns in 1741, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."