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New Year's resolutions are an old tradition

Why do we make New Year’s resolutions every year? And when did it start?

— Jake S., Medford

The majority of people eagerly commit to change and self-improvement on the eve of a new year. Only a meager 8 percent accomplish their goals. Not a great success rate. It made us wonder, as you have, why we bother with this rigmarole year after year.

Despite the high failure rate, New Year’s resolutions have been around, in one form or another, since the 23rd century B.C. At the beginning of each year, the Babylonians made promises to their gods that they would return borrowed objects and pay debts. During medieval times, knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season to reaffirm their steadfast commitment to chivalry. Now those are classy resolutions.

The passage of time has molded New Year’s resolutions into what we know today. Common resolutions include losing weight, improving finances, making new friends or reducing stress.

Did the Babylonians pay their debts and knights remain chivalrous? We’ll never know for certain. What we do know is New Year’s resolutions will continue to challenge us for centuries to come.

The Since You Asked team hopes you’re successful with your 2016 goals. Maybe you’ll be one of the 8 percent.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.