Welcome to the New Year and 2021!
Probably many of you, like me, are hoping and praying that this new year brings with it all of the encouragement, hope, and new beginnings it can possibly muster! As I’ve been reading on New Year’s traditions and history that surround this holiday, it would seem many of these traditions from making some noise, eating lucky food, and turning over a new leaf, have been around a long time!
Making a lot of noise and light—from fireworks to gun shots to church bells—seems to be a favorite New Year’s pastime across the globe.
In ancient Thailand, guns were fired to frighten off demons.
In China, firecrackers routed the forces of darkness.
In Denmark, they throw plates and glasses against front doors to banish bad spirits.
In the early American colonies, the sound of pistol shots rang through the air.¹
Many New Year’s traditions center around food. Here are a few:
In Spain, people attempt to eat 12 grapes during these 12 strokes of midnight! Tradition says that if they succeed before the chimes stop, they will have good luck for all 12 months of the coming year.
In the southern US, black-eyed peas and pork foretell good fortune.
In Scotland—where Hogmanay is celebrated—Scots also hold bonfire ceremonies where people parade while swinging giant fireballs on poles!
Eating any ring-shaped treat (such as a doughnut) symbolizes “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune. In Dutch homes, fritters called olie bollen are served.¹
The dawn of a new year is also an opportune time to take stock of your life. The tradition of New Year’s resolutions is nothing new. In 2000 B.C., the Babylonians celebrated the New Year during a 12-day festival called Akitu.
The Babylonian New Year was adopted by the ancient Romans, as was the tradition of resolutions. The timing, however, eventually shifted with the Julian calendar in 46 B.C. which declared January 1st as the start of the new year.
New Year’s resolutions were also made in the Middle Ages. Medieval knights would renew their vow to chivalry by placing their hands on a peacock. The annual “Peacock Vow” would take place at the end of the year, as a resolution to maintain their knighthood values.
As the founder of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Robert B. Thomas, said, this is a time “of leisure to farmers … settle accounts with your neighbors … now having been industrious in the summer, you will have the felicity of retiring from the turbulence of the storm to the bosom of your family.”
In the United States, New Year’s resolutions are still a tradition, but the type of resolutions have changed. Over the years, however, resolutions seem to have migrated from denying physical indulgences to general self-improvement, like losing weight.
Today’s resolutions seem to reflect more of a person’s status, financial wealth, responsibility, and self-discipline—which isn’t necessary that different from how the New Year’s resolutions originally began.²
See the changes and differences in the New Year’s Resolutions from 1947 to the present day:
1947 New Year’s Resolutions- Gallup Poll
Improve my disposition, be more understanding, control my temper
Improve my character, live a better life
Stop smoking, smoke less
Save more money
Stop drinking, drink less
Present Day New Year’s Resolutions- Gallup Poll
Spend less, save more
Enjoy life to the fullest
Stay fit and healthy
Upon further examination, A “resolution” is a firm decision to do or not to do something. It’s often about finding a solution to a problem. A resolution is not about magical, sweeping change. It’s mainly a time to reflect on your behavior—both what you’ve achieved and how you can continue to make efforts in the right direction.
More people succeed at New Year’s resolutions than you might think. A recent Marist poll of 1,074 adults found that 68% of them who’d made a resolution had kept it. Consider these 5 tips:³
Avoid wording your resolution negatively such as “quitting” or “stopping” a behavior.
Set aside time on your calendar to pause and reflect.
Keep it simple. Settle on one or two goals. Not a big list.
Pick a goal which you truly think will make you feel better.
Define a goal that is specific and measurable.
Lastly, I love this fresh take on making resolutions:
Here’s another idea. If you’re not fond of resolutions, how about taking a piece of paper and listing a few regrets about the past year? To help focus on the future, write down your regrets on a scrap of paper and then throw it away and forget about it. Whether we resolve to return borrowed farm equipment (as did the Babylonians) or drop a few pounds, we’re tapping into an ancient and powerful longing for a fresh start!²
With the onset of the new year, I’m going to add a weekly feature to our weekly CONIZO blog dedicated to what is not only core to our Conizo family, but a tried and tested tenant of my life’s journey. That tenant would be a daily pursuit of the balance of body, mind and spirit.
As a child my Mother, Vera Bryant Peslis, was working on her Masters of Education degree at Marshall University, Huntington, WV, and she’d drop me off for the day with a sack lunch at our local YMCA. I thought it was for the swimming lessons, trampoline, ping pong & pool tables. She, wisely knew, that the YMCA’s focus on developing the Spirit, Mind & Body were central to their mission and core values.⁴
Those early seeds planted as a young boy, have grown into a life’s commitment and daily pursuit to simply check those boxes: Spirit, Mind & Body. We’ll spend some time this year unpacking the value and impact of this daily discipline, but let me start with three good ideas for this week:
Body: Drink that water
Who knew that when your Mother always prodded, “Drink your water” that she was exactly on point. Data from the Cooper Institute, Dallas, TX, suggests Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that women consume 2.7L (91 oz.) of fluid and men consume 3.7L (125 oz.) daily.
The Institute further suggests, Weigh yourself before and after a vigorous activity/workout. For every pound lost, consume 24 oz. (3 cups) of fluid. The goal is to avoid weight/water loss during a workout, so aim to drink the amount necessary throughout your workout.
Here are a few basic ideas to help in staying hydrated:
Always carry a water bottle and refill it several times during the day.
Freeze bottles for warm weather days.
Wedges of lemon or lime can improve the taste of water.
Other fluids such as juice and milk also count as fluid replenishers.⁵
Bottom line: Drink your water
Mind: An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Not so much.
Reading for enjoyment & the mind’s sake is also a love-of-mine. Reader’s Digest is a favorite go-to-place for articles/info of all kinds and especially on keeping the mind sharp. Perusing over the holidays, I came across an interesting article taking a look at the old adage, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But does it really?
You may know the silent signs of a heart attack or stroke, but preventing one is another beast altogether. Exercise and sleep are great habits that reduce your risk but don’t overlook the power of your diet. According to a study, you might want to add bananas and other potassium-rich foods to your plan.
Researchers at the University of Alabama have found that eating bananas every day could help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Their study, which aimed to determine how the mineral potassium affects blood flow and artery health, examined mice who received a diet containing either low, normal, or high levels of potassium. Overall, mice given a low-potassium diet had much harder arteries than their counterparts. Mice who received high levels of potassium, on the other hand, showed significantly less artery hardening and reduced stiffness in their aorta, as well.
The results of the study are promising, according to Ali Webster, RD, PhD, the associate director at the International Food Information Council. For most people, eating potassium-rich foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, beans, and dark leafy greens will contribute to a healthy diet and possibly reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, according to Webster. Many people in the United States consume less potassium than is recommended, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans named potassium a “nutrient of public health concern.”⁶
Bottom line: Add those bananas to your daily intake
Spirit: Meditating can lower your blood pressure
One of my go-to-sources for the daily scoop on living a healthier lifestyle is WebMD. Over the holiday-break, I was taking an online quiz on High Blood Pressure, when I ran across this surprising yet comforting data:
Studies show that doing Transcendental Meditation (TM) can lower your blood pressure a bit. TM involves focusing on a sound or phrase to get to a relaxed state of mind. But medication is still more effective. So, if you have high blood pressure, meditate along with medicating -- not instead of it.
There is a growing body of research showing the value and impact of prayer on reducing and controlling stress. I love the fact that what people of faith have known for years is being proven by science. Who do we think invented science in the first place? But I digress.⁷
Bottom line: Say your prayers
At CONIZO, we believe living well is both an art and a science - not either/or. Using both personal experience and data-driven metrics, intuition and detailed research, story and facts, Conizo hopes to provide you with both the method and story to live life well.
Conizo Living & Wellness seeks to be the leading innovator and provider of intergenerational experiences, resources, products and services because we believe that the wisdom of one generation can intersect with the hope of another.
Thanks for starting this new year with us and from all of us...Happy New Year!
New Year’s Traditions Around the World, Victoria Doudera, December 14, 2020, https://www.almanac.com/new-years-traditions-around-world
How Did the Tradition of New Year’s Resolutions Start, Catherine Boeckmann, January 2, 2021, https://www.almanac.com/history-of-new-years-resolutions
YMCA of the USA, https://www.ymca.net/our-focus
The Cooper Institute, Hydrate for Optimal Well Being, Carey Shore, MSc, RD., https://www.cooperinstitute.org/2014/02/24/hydrate-for-optimal-well-being
WebMD, High Blood Pressure Quiz, How Much Do You Know, https://www.rd.com/article/eat-a-banana-every