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Well, here we are again at the start of a brand new year, the winter air blowing cold and brisk, carrying with it a new surge of enthusiasm and energy in anticipation of the things to come.

But did you know that this celebration has pre-historic roots?


The celebration of the new year is one of the oldest holidays with many historians believing that the celebration of new years first took place some 4000 years ago in ancient Babylon. The celebration lasted 11 days and marked the first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox. The earliest recorded celebration was held in Mesopotamia 2000 B.C.

The early Roman calendar which consisted of ten months placed the start of the new year at March 1st. The fact that March was considered the first month of the year at that time can be seen in the names of some of the other months, i.e. "septem" in Latin is seven, "octo" is eight, "novem" is nine and "decem" is ten. It is also believed that the first time the new year was celebrated on the 1st of January was in Rome in 153 B.C. when Numa Pontilius, the second kind of Rome, added the months of January and February to the calendar and moved the start of the year from March 1st to January 1st as it was the start of the Roman civil year.

The move of the day from March 1st to January 1st officially took place in 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar introduced a new and improved calendar based on the movement of the sun. The Julian calendar as it was called set the 1st day of the year as January 1. Yet many cultures still celebrate their new years during different times of the year.

However, in 567, the Council of Tours abolished the celebrations of January 1 as they felt that they were pagan and unchristian like. It wasn't until 1582, that the Gregorian calendar re-established January 1st as the start of the new year. While many of the countries where Catholicism reigned adopted the new Gregorian calendar, the Protestants did not. Britain did not adopt the new calendar until 1752 thus, the British Empire including the American colonies had continued to celebrate the new year in March.

It is also traditionally a time for making new year's resolutions, a proposed action that when completed benefits one's life, a tradition that is believed to have been started by the Babylonians. Some of the most popular ones are:

Drink less alcohol.
Get a better education.
Get a better job.
Get physically fit.
Lose weight.
Manage debt.
Quit smoking.
Reduce stress at work or overall.
Save money.
Volunteer to help others.

No matter what you choose upon as your resolutions, you will have a better chance of keeping them if you follow the tips below.

1. Pick realistic goals. Keep them small and simple.
2. Define the goals. Saying that you'll lose weight, change your job or go back to school isn't enough. Develop a step-by-step plan on how you intend to reach your goal.
3. Establish a timetable. Set a date at which you expect to meet your goal. A goal with no target date is doomed to failure.
4. Don't get upset by Setbacks. If you happen to miss a beat, don't hit yourself over the head; just continue forward.
5. Enlist help or support. Sometimes reaching a goal can be easier with the help of a friend or a professional who can help keep you motivated.

In any case, whether or not you choose to keep the tradition of resolution making, here are a few thoughts to think about.

This year, mend a quarrel.
Seek out a forgotten friend.
Dismiss suspicion, and replace it with trust.
Write a love letter.
Share some treasure.
Encourage youth.
Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.

Keep a promise.
Find the time.
Forego a grudge.
Forgive an enemy.
Apologize if you are wrong.
Try to understand.
Flout envy.

Examine your demands on others.
Think first of someone else.
Be kind; be gentle.
Laugh a little.
Laugh a little more.
Deserve confidence.
Take up arms against malice.

Decry complacency.
Express your gratitude.
Welcome a stranger.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty of the earth.
Speak your love.

Best wishes to you and your family for a safe, healthy and happy new year.

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