The (short) history of New Year's

Fireworks flash over Sydney Harbour during New Year celebrations, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. The annual fireworks extravaganza over the city's landmark harbor bridge and opera house are the centerpiece of Australia's celebrations, and generate some of the most striking images from a night of revelry across the globe. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

December 31, 2009 9:48:50 AM PST
Why is January 1 known as New Year's Day? And what are these resolutions all about?A New Year's Resolution has become such a part of our celebration, it's tough to use the word "resolution" without putting "New Year's" in front of it.

We've all made a resolution or two. Once again, many of us will make a resolution to lose a bad habit or start a good one.

According to the Web site usa.gov, some of the more popular resolutions include losing weight, saving money, quitting smoking, getting fit and taking a trip.

All are admirable goals, but why now? Why do we tend to make life-altering promises at the dawn of a new year?

And how did January 1 become the beginning of the new year?

According to legend, the history of New Year's Resolutions goes back a couple thousand years.

Historians indicate the roots stem from the mythical Roman King Janus (We still use his name for the first month of the year -- January).

Janus was known as the god of beginnings and became the ancient Roman symbol for resolutions.

He was also said to be two-faced. No, he wasn't a hypocrite, but was believed to have a face in the back of his head as well as the front. This unique feature enabled the king to look back into the past and ahead toward the future. Janus also became known as the guardian of entry ways (and doors as well).

The New Year was celebrated by Romans who used Janus as a symbol of the occasion while seeking forgiveness from their enemies. It was also a time to exchange gifts with one another.

During the Middle Ages, Christians moved New Year's Day to December 25 --  hence the blurry division of New Year's celebrations and the Christmas holiday.  The official New Year's Day was then moved to March 25 and called "Annunciation."

Pope Gregory XIII sorted everything out in the 16th century when he revised the Julian calendar and returned the New Year's celebration to January 1.

That leads us to resolutions. Will you make a resolution? What will it be? Tell us about it on our facebook page or in the Comments section below.

Here are some of the resolutions posted by our friends on facebook:

Kim Murdough my resolution is to be a part of the restoration of the great city of Flint.

Earl Pitawondaquat An Obama impeachment!

Deborah Beck- Burns I resolve, not to make any resolutions this year....

DeMona Willingham-Davis To volunteer and donate to more worthy causes!

No discussion about New Year's would be complete without mentioning Auld Lang Syne. Nearly everyone can recall the first verse and chorus, but relatively few have heard the traditional version of the timeless Robert Burns poem.

You can hear Susan McKeown's traditional version of Auld Lang Syne on YouTube.

Auld Lang Syne-Traditional lyrics

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine,
And we'll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

We twa hae run about the braes, 
And pou'd the gowans fine, 
But we've wander'd monie a weary fit, 
Sin auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine, 
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin auld lang syne.

And there's a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o thine,
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.


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