Since the beginning of recorded history, people all over the world have made an enduring tradition of celebrating the coming of a new year by setting themselves up for failure. In modern western culture, we call this self-indulgent tradition a New Year’s resolution. Four thousand years ago, the Babylonians used to mark the New Year by resolving to return borrowed objects and repay debts. During the Saturnalia festival around the passing of the winter solstice, the ancient Romans made grand promises to their god Janus in the hopes of gaining his favour. Janus, for whom the month of January is named, was the Roman god of beginnings, endings, and transitions. He was also responsible for gates, doorways, doors, and other duties as assigned.
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