The history of New Year’s resolutions and testimonials about the coming year
by Shelley Sharp
According to Wikipedia, “A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere…in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.”
We at properties of the San Juan Island Inn Collection are no different. Each year, we make lists and plans that, we hope, will steer us toward our personal and professional health/wealth/happiness goals. Little did we know that our resolution-making has a long and illustrious history.
Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times
The idea of getting the approaching year off to a good start is not a new idea. Some 4,000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first civilization to make New Year’s resolutions. In mid-March (the start to their new year), they made offerings and promises to their gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed the previous year. If the Babylonians kept to their word, they believed they would be bestowed with good favor for a successful crop and healthy life. If not, they would fall out of favor and risk losing their wealth and position in society.
Hail Caesar, King of Resolutions
A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome. The reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar established January 1 as the new calendar year. The month, named for Janus the two-faced god, held special significance for the inhabitants of Rome. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, pious Romans offered sacrifices to the double-faced deity and promised good conduct for the year ahead.
Christians get in on the Action
For early Christians, the first day of the New Year became the traditional occasion for thinking about past mistakes and resolving to be better in the future. In 1740, the English Clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. These services acted as a spiritual alternative to the raucous parties normally held to celebrate the coming year. Covenant Renewal Services are still popular within some American evangelical Protestant churches, where congregants make collective resolutions and pray together for a fruitful new year.
The Annual Custom Continues
Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are mostly a secular practice. Instead of making promises to God, most Westerners set personal goals for themselves…focusing purely on self-improvement. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, in 2018 the top five resolutions were: eating healthier, getting more exercise, saving (more) money, practicing self-care, and making more time to read. And while as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make resolutions of some sort, only eight percent say they actually achieve their goals.
Resolve to Keep Making Resolutions
But that dismal record probably won’t stop people from making resolutions anytime soon—after all, we’ve had about 4,000 years of practice.
The residents of Friday Harbor are no different. We want to be thinner, healthier, wiser, and have more money in our pocketbooks. At the The Tucker House Inn, Harrison House Suites and Coho Restaurant, we hope to see more of you and continue to offer and improve our outstanding food and service.
We’ve asked a variety of our team members, guests and locals to share their goals and dreams for 2019. Here’s what they had to say:
Christie & Connor Bowman: Repeat Guests
When they were dating, the Bowmans chose Friday Harbor as the destination for their first overnight get-away. They fell in love with our island and community. So much in fact, they returned a few years later to elope at The Tucker House Inn. Their collective New Year’s resolution is to buy a house on San Juan and move here in early 2019. Bringing along their young son and Christie’s mother, the Bowmans are resolving to plant roots. They’re Friday Harbor bound for a fresh start, new jobs, great schools, and a friendly, safe community.
Anna Maria de Freitas & David Pass: San Juan Island Inn Collection Co-Owners
Those who know Anna Maria, know that she is a woman who wears many hats and fills many shoes. In addition to co-owning the Tucker House, Harrison House, Coho Restaurant, and Island Events and Catering, Anna Maria is an accomplished author with a second cookbook on its way. “I am dying to finally publish my latest edition, “Savor San Juan Islands: Good Life Recipes from Friday Harbor,” she sighs. “It’s been a year in the making and I can’t wait to have it available.”
Give us a call at (360) 378-2783 to pre-order. Her first edition, “La Cucina Anna Maria: Good Life Recipes from San Juan Island” is also available for purchase.
Devin Greenwell & Nicole Summers: United States Coast Guard Inspectors
Nicole and Devin stayed with us in mid-December on one of their scheduled inspections of the Washington State Ferry Tillicum. A stay in Friday Harbor is one of the perks of the job and we are honored when they stay at The Tucker House. Nicole, who has 26 years of Coast Guard service under her belt is looking to get organized so she can carve out more time to do the things she loves: estate sales, time with her kids, and flipping houses with her carpenter husband. Devin, a dad with two young children, wants to find time in 2019 to focus on professional growth. He also plans to read for pleasure, “not just regulations and policies.”
Jonathan Parent: San Juan Island Sea Kayak Guide
Jonathan has spent much of his life in the San Juan Islands and surrounding coastal areas. Whether it be sailing, fishing, kayaking, diving, guiding or conducting marine research, Jonathan always has a hand in some aspect of marine life. When asked about his new year’s resolution, Jonathan is looking to seek out more community. “I enjoy building relationships with people while experiencing the outdoors, especially in wilderness situations. But I’d like to be better about seeking out community in a more day to day fashion,” he answers. “The other piece I am trying to work on is taking opportunities to experience the natural world in a simpler way, like going on more walks with my lovely partner, Lindsey.”
Ryan Lockhart: Chef de Cuisine at Coho Restaurant
Chef Ryan is a man of many talents. In the new year, he wants to make time for his many interests. To keep up on his large to-do list, he uses the notebook sharing app, Clear, which he checks in with daily. When pressed what his priorities are, he says “his health and all that goes with that, of course.” Ryan also has quite the travel bug. He hopes to get to at least one of his bucket-list destinations. On the list are: Southeast Asia, Scotland and Ireland, Spain and Southern France, or South America.
Our team would love to hear about some of your 2019 resolutions. Look for posts on The Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites Facebook pages after Christmas to comment with yours. Happy holidays to you and yours. We look forward to seeing you in 2019!