TEACHER, AUTHOR, EDUblogger "I want to (read and) write books that unblock the traffic jam in everyone's mind." ~J. Updike
Recently, a friend asked me my plan for a New Year’s resolution. Well, here’s my confession. I don’t have one. Yep, that’s right. See, I have never been one to wait till New Year’s Eve to make a “Resolution.” I have always figured that if I want to do something to improve my physical, mental or spiritual well-being I should…. well, I should just do it. Not resolve to do it. Or wait till Monday to do it. If I really mean to do something I should… you guessed it, just do it! So, tell me, why is it that I still feel guilty not being all gung-ho for this whole New Year’s Resolution hoo-haw?
For me, that is the million dollar question. However, my reluctance to buy into it may also be because I am reluctant to ever “buy into” anything unless I have a good reason. You see, everything I do seems to need to be able to answer the question which some deem to be the pervasive “writer’s question.” The question that hums through my being…. why? That one word has had my tots toasted and caused many a detention in my early school years.
Why would such an innocuous word as why unnerve the most stoic of individuals? I believe this is because many of us do things and participate in activities and rituals(on a daily basis sometimes) that really have no conscious reasoning behind them. When someone asks why you do something they are asking you to answer a question that you have not even asked yourself. This can fluster some people. In fact, if you are a teacher at a first grade parochial school it may cause you to send the child into the hallway (with her desk) so as to avoid answering the question. Ahh, apologies Sister Moran, there I go inserting personal experience into my writing once again.
And so, now my pondering has led me to research the history of not only New Year’s Resolutions but traditions involving the New Year, in general.
Around the world, New Year’s celebrations have been common place for hundreds if not thousands of years. Traditions associated with New Years Eve celebrations can vary from culture to culture. Many of these traditions include parties to ring in the New Year, eating special foods either on New Year’s Eve or News Year’s Day, watching fireworks, and of course the making of New Year resolutions.
In Spain and a few other Spanish-speaking countries, people will eat 12 grapes right before midnight on New Year’s Eve. This is to symbolize “good luck” for each of the coming months. In fact, there are many cultures where different kinds of beans and lentils traditionally consumed on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. The legumes are supposed to resemble coins and thus herald “good luck” to the one who eats them. Hmmmm. None of my beans ever look like coins.
Here in the U.S., many Southern states have the tradition of eating black-eyed peas. Depending on the state, it is very important to have a hunk of ham in those black-eyed peas. Why? Well, it may be related to the fact that in some cultures found in Austria, Portugal, Hungary, and Cuba, pigs are symbols of prosperity. The U.S., being as multicultural as it is, has unknowingly blended the traditions of various cultures and made them their own. Traditions involving food such as cakes, pastries and ring-shaped cookies are also prevalent in New Year traditions.
One “old-wives tale” type tradition involves the admonition to be very careful of your activities on New Year’s Day. The “reasoning” behind this belief is that what you do on this day will be repeated throughout the coming year. So, if you do something that results in negative consequences your entire year will be doomed with negativity. For example, if you eat doughnuts on New Year’s Day morning, even you make a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape, you will not be able to help yourself because you will have an all-consuming desire to eat doughnuts every day of the coming year. Ahora, is there any science behind all this craziness….. NO! Que dice? You heard me.
Of course, if you research the origin of anything these days you’ll always come up with articles saying that (whatever it is you are researching) dates back to to pre-Christian Babylonian times…. yada-yada-yada, blah-blah-blah. Que-ever! None of which can either be proven nor dis-proven and is usually accepted as fact by individuals who do not make it habit to ask why? En other words, it doesn’t answer my question so….. shush. 😉
In the end, what can I say that my research has uncovered? Absolutely nada I didn’t know already. And so, what is my take-away from this? Only the fact that it is human nature to want to make a fresh start and that the New Year is a monumental time to give yourself permission to do so or to consider doing so. Making these “resolutions” at this time also gives you a sense of doing this within a larger “community” of people. Therefore, you don’t feel quite so alone undertaking the challenges of a “resolution” at this time.
So, here it is. I will now share with the world my New Year’s Resolution.
I resolve to never wait to make the changes in my life that I need to make in order to grow in my mental, physical, or spiritual life.
Howz’ that? 😉