Who were the first to make resolutions for the new year?
People have been pledging to change their ways in the new year—whether by getting in shape, quitting a bad habit or learning a skill—for an estimated 4,000 years now. The tradition is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.) The age-old custom of breaking one’s newly formed resolutions within several months—a fate that befalls the majority of would-be reformers, according to statistics—probably originated shortly thereafter.