In the 18th century, Christians would hold mass on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Worshippers could reflect on the past year and make resolutions to do better in the year ahead. In 1802, people were satirising the practice of New Year’s resolutions. Walker’s Hibernian Magazine published joke resolutions such as: “Statesmen have resolved to have no other object in view than the good of their country…” In 1813, a Boston newspaper published the first recorded use of the phrase ‘New Year resolution’:
“And yet, I believe there are multitudes of people, accustomed to receive injunctions of new year resolutions, who will sin all the month of December, with a serious determination of beginning the new year with new resolutions and new behaviour, and with the full belief that they shall thus expiate and wipe away all their former faults.”
Over two centuries later, New Year’s resolutions are a common practice around the world from North America to Asia. Whether they’re rooted in religion, culture, or an entirely individual practice, these resolutions take different shapes in many different countries. We look at how different countries make New Year’s resolutions each year.
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