A History of New Year Resolutions

The oldest recorded New Year resolution dates to about 2000 BCE. Introduction Every year, many of us make New Year resolutions and, predictably, many of these resolutions are often not kept. While this seems to us as an annual ritual, the history of New Year resolutions is ancient and, just like today, people in the[…]

The Icy Backstory to that ‘Clink Clink’ You Hear When Toasting in the New Year

The history of ice in drinks goes back to antiquity but only really got going when a Bostonian started exporting ice to colonial India. Introduction If ever there was a year to toast drawing to an end, it’s 2020. Over the festive period, people around the world will be raising a glass to better times[…]

The Battle of All Time: How the World Arrived at the Current Yearly Calendar

For centuries more the Protestants of Northern Europe refused to recognize the new “Gregorian” calendar. By Erik Von Norden Consider that our whole concept of time is off by several years due to a small math mistake by a sixth-century monk named Dionysus Exiguus (Dennis the Really, Really Short). By way of explanation, it seems[…]

The Ancient Celtic Roots of the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year

Celts of thousands of years ago celebrated the festivals the wheel highlights. Introduction The Wheel of the Year is a symbol of the eight Sabbats (religious festivals) of Neo-Paganism and the Wicca movement which includes four solar festivals (Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Fall Equinox) and four seasonal festivals (celebrating or marking a significant[…]

How Did Ancient Greeks and Romans Celebrate Special Occasions?

Getty curators answer your questions about ancient parties. If the ancient Greeks and Romans were still around today, we might say they “know how to party.” With dozens of gods and goddesses to celebrate, plus birthdays and other religious holidays like Saturnalia, the Greeks and Romans had many opportunities for revelry and merrymaking throughout the[…]

The Ancient Athenian Calendar

Athenian calendars used lunar cycles and/or solar events to affix dates. Introduction The term “Athenian Calendar” (also called the “Attic Calendar”) has become somewhat of a misnomer, since Ancient Athenians never really used just one method to reckon the passage of time. Athenians, especially from the 3rd Century BCE forward, could consult any one of five[…]

Extinctions, Eruptions, and Plague: Awful Years in History

Experts from science, history, and literature take us through some terrible times. Around the world, people can’t wait for 2020 to end. COVID-19 has killed close to a million people globally over the course of the pandemic. On top of the coronavirus, there’s been significant floods in Uganda, Kenya, Pakistan and the UK, Australia has[…]