06 Happy New YearChristmas Day and New Year’s Day allow people to enjoy a complete week of holiday festivities. People decorate their homes and shops and purchase gifts for each other. We wish each other a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special foods, watching fireworks displays and making resolutions for the new year.

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox — the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness — heralded the start of a new year. Festivities have varied over time. Early celebrations were more paganistic, celebrating Earth’s cycles. It wasn’t until Julius Caesar implemented the Julian calendar that Jan. 1 became the common day for the celebration.

In many countries, modern New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of Dec. 31 and continue into the early hours of Jan. 1. Americans often celebrate with parties featuring toasting, drinking and fireworks late into the night on New Year’s Eve. Some might even get a kiss at midnight. Customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular “Auld Lang Syne” in many English-speaking countries.

New Year’s Eve has always been a time to reflect on the past, but more importantly, to plan for the future. Resolutions can be anything from meal prepping to volunteering. In many parts of the world, traditional new year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success. One example includes black-eyed peas in the southern United States. New Year’s resolutions are traditions. Some are more popular than others.

According to an Inc. study of 2,000 people, the most common resolutions that were made in 2019 include No. 1 eating healthier. More than two-thirds of American adults are considered to be overweight or obese. It should come as no surprise that diet is the first thing people want to tackle in the new year. Exercising more comes under the same umbrella as eating healthier. Working out more is the second most common new year’s resolution.

Many Americans are eager to get on top of their finances in the new year. Some want to get out of debt while others are more focused on bulking up their savings accounts. About a third of Americans make this their top goal. Debt.com says to be specific, set a budget, let go of unhealthy spending habits, track your spending, and use cash whenever you can.

Sometimes new year’s resolutions are about losing things: extra weight, debt or emotional baggage like letting go of nasty habits, such as eating junk food and smoking. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said, “it’s never too early to quit.” There are plenty of tools to help you through it. Over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy products make it easier to kick nicotine without spending a fortune or even stepping a foot in the doctor’s office. On average, smokers try about four times before they quit for good, so don’t let a failed attempt discourage you. Happy New Year!

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