Apologies and Promises: A Brief History Behind New Year’s Resolutions

Janus

It wasn’t too long ago that people were making promises to themselves about how they would be better in the new year. I saw plenty of social media updates about “2015: The Year of Me.” People listed all the ways they would change for the better after they cured their New Year’s Eve hangover. I also saw plenty of people making jokes about New Year’s Resolutions as well, and it isn’t hard to see why.

In her Huffington Post article “New Year Resolutions You’re Most Likely To Break,” Corrie Pikul states that “about 40 percent of us will resolve to change our lives in some way in the new year.” According to Siobhan Norton’s The Independent article “Why we make (and break) our New Year’s resolutions – and how to stick to them,” majority of people give up their resolutions by January 23rd, which means most of my social media friends have already failed in their quest for making 2015 all about a better self.

So why do we bother making New Year’s Resolutions year after year? The truth is this tradition has been around for so long it isn’t going to vanish any time soon. According to Norton, ancient Romans, Babylonians and other civilizations began the New Year by atoning to their gods for wrongdoings and promised to live better lives this time around.

Ancient Romans in particular paid special attention to the god Janus during this time. Janus was associated with, among other things, new beginnings. He is portrayed with two faces, one looking to the future and one looking to the past, making him the perfect deity to send both apologies and promises.

Over time Janus, as well as his fellow Roman gods, fell out of favor to other religions. However, the fear of new beginnings as well as the past still plagued humanity. So the tradition of looking back on our failures and promising to change them in the future carries on to the present day. So for those who mock this ancient tradition, why not give it a try? It clearly isn’t going anywhere.

Think it’s too late to start a New Year’s Resolution? Think again. Plenty of people stumble throughout the year before reaching their goal. The important this is that you try.


Internet Archive Book Images. Image from page 180 of “Manual of mythology : Greek and Roman, Norse, and old German, Hindoo and Egyptian mythology” (1875). 29 Jul. 2014. Online image. Flickr. 29 Jan. 2015. https://flic.kr/p/oeSsJW

3 Ways to Make MLK Day Mean Something

MLKDay

Martin Luther King Day is next week, which means many people will be off from work and school on Monday, January 19th. While many people see this as a 4-day weekend, and therefore an excuse to stay out late or sleep in for one more day, MLK Day is so much more than that.

While I’ve heard people question why MLK day isn’t in February, which is Black History Month, MLK Day is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in January. This date roughly coincides with King’s January 15th birthday.

The holiday is fairly new and has an interesting path to becoming recognized by the US government. People began campaigning for a national holiday remembering King after his death in 1968. Over the years people, organizations, and even celebrities began to support the idea until it was signed into law in 1983. Interestingly enough, the first Martin Luther King Day was in 1986, but it was not observed in all 50 states until 2000.

MLK Day is more than just remembering the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, though. One of King’s most repeated quotes on this holiday is, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” As a civil rights activist, King constantly worked to improve the lives of all Americans. Why not use that as inspiration to help out those around you?

MLK Day is part of President Obama’s United We Serve plan that began in 2009. The idea is that by taking the time to volunteer and make a difference in the community, the community will begin to improve. Not sure where or how you can help? Here’s 3 places you can look to volunteer this Monday. Please note that you should always call ahead about volunteering instead of simply showing up to any location.

1. Food banks

Food banks are a great place to volunteer because you can not only help out a great cause, but you can also go with friends or the entire family and work together. Check out places like the Feeding America website to find a food bank near you.

2. Homeless shelters

Like food banks, homeless shelters are always in need of extra hands to help. If you aren’t sure where your nearest homeless shelter is, you can search on websites like Volunteers of America.

3. Check online

Do you have a special skill or passion that you want to utilize this Monday? Perfect! There’s plenty of positions all over America that require specific training or abilities from their volunteers. Websites like Volunteer Match allow people to enter their location and then provides a list of topics they can browse to find the perfect volunteer position for them.

MLK Day is more than just remembering the life of an inspiring civil rights advocate. This Monday is also about giving back to your community and helping those in need. As I’ve said before, please call ahead and state your interest in volunteering before you go in on January 19th. Trust me, I’ve worked at places that take volunteers regularly. Calling ahead means you can make the most of your volunteer time.

It doesn’t matter how long you can donate your time, as long as you make the effort to help your community. If you can’t get off work this Monday but still want to make a difference, perhaps make an effort within your own life to help those around you. Call a friend you don’t see too often, make a special dinner for your family, anything to make someone’s day a little brighter.


The U.S. National Archives. Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking.], 08/28/1963. 28 Aug. 1963. Online image. Flickr. 14 Jan. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/8LTnQf

4 Tips to Find the Fun in a New City

PartyTime

This was my first New Year’s Eve in Indianapolis with all my friends being over the age of 21. It was also my first New Year’s Eve living in Indy. Naturally, a fun evening had to be planned to commemorate so many firsts.

We ended up going to the New Year’s Eve party on Georgia St. It was a first for the city, and it showed in some ways. While I wasn’t surprised with how many people were packed in the bars, I was surprised with how much of an area was blocked off for the actual event. Georgia St. is only 3 blocks long, but for some reason only 1 block was reserved for the event. Even if it was the city’s first major New Year’s Eve party, 1 block for the entire city’s all age event seems ridiculous.

That being said, the concert was really fun. I’m glad to hear that Indy is planning on doing this next year, so hopefully they’ll learn from their mistakes.

This is the kind of event that mainly locals hear about. While there were a few articles and news stories about it, they were short pieces at best and easy to miss. Most of the people seemed to have heard about it through the grapevine. This is easy if you’ve been in the area for a while, but those who recently relocated might have a harder time.

Remember in August when I quoted a Forbes.com article that the average worker stays at their job about 4 years before moving on and majority of Millennials expect to stay less than that? That hasn’t changed much in the last 5 months. Many people move to completely new cities every year. So how do you find fun events in your new home when you haven’t established yourself enough to be part of “The Grapevine?” Here’s how.

1. Google it

I know it sounds obvious, but a simple Google search will bring up some interesting results if you know where to look, especially for holiday events. I found the Georgia St. event by simply looking up “Indianapolis New Year’s Eve.” When you find an event that sounds interesting, change your Google search to that specific event to get even more details. After reading an article mentioning Georgia St., I began searching “Georgia St. New Year’s Eve Indianapolis.” That brought up more detailed articles that gave me enough information to decide to check it out.

2. Use Meetup

Meetup.com is a great website for both personal and professional use. I’ve mainly used it to find business conferences to attend, but I know people who have also had great success using it to find events and activities to do during their free time. Several clubs also use Meetup so the site is a great place to find regular events that can help you make new friends in your new city.

3. Just look for the signs

It’s another obvious answer, but staying on the lookout for signs about upcoming events is another great way to find things to do. I’ve read about concerts on marquees and found great trivia nights will out at local bars all by reading signs. Next time you’re out, especially at a place you want to visit again, scan the room for signs about upcoming events. They’re often posted at the front door, by registers, or behind the bar, but they could be anywhere so always look out for them.

4. Ask around

Ask your coworkers! You have to talk to them anyway, and they all know you just moved, so why not ask them for some great places? They might even know some hidden gems you can’t find online. This works better for restaurants, bars, or concert venues than individual activities, but it’s still nice to have a few locations to suggest when meeting up with friends. Who knows, your coworkers could even invite you to these places so you can check it out right away!

If you’re anything like me, you like staying busy. Moving to a new place can be hard on your social life, but relocating doesn’t mean you’re life is over. Whether you’re looking for something to do for the next holiday or just a regular weekend, these tips will help you plan the perfect outing. So go forth, my fellow New In Towns, and become a social butterfly in your new city!


Solana, Jesus. Party time ! in Istanbul / Fiesta! en Estambul. 7 Jun. 2007. Online image. Flickr. 2 Jan. 2015. https://flic.kr/p/QRTMV