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Library News

By: Blair Henry
For: Red Rock News
Date: December 31
, 2010

Sedona Public Library in the Village is moving!

SPL in the Village will be closing the 56 W Cortez Drive location at 1:00 p.m. on January 22.  We will open at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 1 at C102 Tequa Plaza.  The bookdrop will be available at W Cortez through January 29 and be available at Tequa Plaza on January 31.  Thank you for your support and donations to continue library services in the Village.

New Year’s: Resolutions, Wine, Religion & Circumcision

You can always learn something new and interesting at the Sedona Public Library. Have you ever heard about the connection between New Year’s resolutions, wine, religion and circumcision?

First, New Year’s is the oldest celebration in the history in the world. It began 4000 years ago in 2000 BC with the ancient Babylonians. Their celebration put modern celebrations to shame. Their celebration lasted eleven days with a new kind of celebration each day.

Second, New Year’s has also been celebrated on many different days by different cultures over the centuries. The Roman Senate set the date on January 1 in 153 BC and none other than Julius Caesar himself re-established that date in 46 BC. 

Then in the Middle Ages, Christians decided New Year's Day should be the same day when they thought Jesus was born - December 25.  Later, they changed it again to March 25 to coincide with a holiday known as the Annunciation which is the day Christians believed Mary became pregnant with Jesus. Then again, in sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII revised the entire Julian calendar and moved New Year’s back to January 1.

Third, the tradition of New Year’s resolutions was also begun by the Romans in 153 BC. The Romans used the image of Janus, a mythical king of early Rome and the God of Beginnings, at the beginning of every calendar and named the first month after him, January.

The image of Janus has two faces, one on the back of his head looking backward toward past events and one on the front of his head looking forward to the future. 

Since Janus could look backward and forward at the same time, he became the symbol for New Year’s resolutions as the Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and exchanged gifts. Gifts then often consisted of branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common gifts.

While modern popular New Year’s resolutions include promises to lose weight or quit smoking, the most popular resolution for the early Babylonian's was to return the farm equipment they had borrowed from others.

Fourth, the traditions of New Year’s have changed too. The American tradition of kissing someone at the stroke of midnight came from the days when people had dances and wore costumes and masks. The mask symbolized evil spirits from the old year and the kiss symbolized the purification into the New Year.

The Greeks in 600 BC began using a baby as a tradition to signify the New Year. Their primary purpose though was to celebrate the god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket. To them, this represented the annual rebirth of Dionysus and the spirit of fertility. While early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth, the early Christians denounced the practice as pagan. The Church finally relented when it was decided the baby and New Year’s could symbolize the birth of the baby Jesus.

Fifth, many Christian churches around the world today still celebrate January 1 as the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ. They believe Jesus was born on December 25, and that, according to Jewish tradition, his circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of his life - which would be January 1. In the 1970’s, the Catholic Church replaced the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God celebrating Mary's motherhood of Jesus.

Finally, research indicates that while 52% of people making New Year’s Resolutions were confident they would succeed, only 12% actually achieved their goals. Men are more likely to be successful when they set up specific measureable goals and a regular system, such as, “losing two pounds each week” instead of just saying "lose weight".  Women are more likely to be successful if they make their goals public and secure support from their friends.

Blair Henry
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.
Blair Henry is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sedona Public Library.