Salisbury, MD. First observed in Babylon some 4,000 years ago, New Year's celebrations originally took place in March. The Babylonians had no calendar and springtime and the planting of new crops just seemed like a logical time for the "starting over" date. The Babylonians New Year's Celebration actually lasted for 11 days and, since it coincided with the planting of crops, the Gardening Grannies speculate that the Babylonians probably rarely got a crop in on time.
Over the years, the date for the New Year's celebrations changed from emperor to emperor. In fact, in the Middle Ages, Christians re-established the date to December 25, to honor the birth of Christ. March…. December… January… Talk about a moving target for a party!
Finally, in 46 BC, Julius Caesar, fed up with the business of date tampering, established the Julian Calendar (synchronizing his calendar with the solar calendar) and, despite the fact that the current year had to be extended to 445 days, January 1 became officially and finally New Year's Day.
Now that we've superficially covered New Year's Day and the establishment of that particular tradition, how did those New Year's Resolutions come about? That, according to most of our sources, dates back to 153 BC when Janus, the mythical king of early Rome, was placed at the head of the calendar. Janus, the "god of beginnings", became January to us. And just what were his qualifications for this honor? It seems that the mythical Janus had two faces. One looked forward into the New Year and one looked back at the old one. Thus, he became the ancient symbol for resolutions.
Despite their frequent lack of permanent success, the Gardening Grannies always make a couple of New Year's Resolutions. It just seems a good way to express their optimism in the New Year and that it … and they … will make improvements over the previous year. After striking resolutions not related to gardening (weight loss, more time with family, exercise more, more personal discipline, etc.), we were left with the following resolutions:
* Garden logically (translation: better planning, less spontaneous buying)
* Learn more about "companion planting"
* Do more container gardening
* Find ways to reduce maintenance
* No more naked gardening (translation: mulch everything…what were you thinking???)
* Try something new (this is an easy one and it always sticks)
* The right plant in the right place (borrowed from gardening writer Joe Lamp'l)
* Pay for my gardening "habit" by having a yard sale to sell the extra seedlings
Even though only an estimated 45% of Americans make New Year's Resolutions and less than half of that 45% have still kept them after six months, the Grannies always get together and share their resolutions. They find that sharing resolutions is the first step in keeping them.
As a final note, Granny Griffith would like to remind everyone about an old Welsh tradition that you might consider for future New Year's Eves. To participate, you have to be somewhere where you can hear a clock striking midnight. At the first stroke of midnight, you open the back door of your house to release the old year. Then you shut it to lock out all of its bad luck. At the twelfth stroke of midnight, you open the front door to welcome in the New Year and all of the luck that comes with it.
Gardening Grannies, a group of avid and Master Gardeners, live, love and garden on the Delmarva Peninsula. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we look forward to hearing from you.