The origin of the New Year’s resolution 「新年決心」 的前世今生

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很多人會在一年之初給自己制定各類計畫和目標,對過去曾犯下的錯誤進行反省,改過自新。人們每在新年之際為來年制定自我提高計畫這個概念從何而來?各個國家有哪些相關的習俗和傳統?本集節目介紹 「新年決心」 的起源,並講解與 「期許、承諾」 有關的詞彙。

Vocabulary: New Year’s resolutions and promises 詞彙: 新年決心與期許

Happy New Year! For many in the UK, if the New Year means anything, it means starting with a clean slate and turning over a new leaf. And to do this, many of us make New Year’s resolutions – a list of ways that we intend to improve ourselves in the year ahead. We reflect on our past transgressions and resolve not to do them again. Refraining from smoking is ever popular, as is a vow to take up more exercise or spend more time with family. But where does the idea of a New Year’s resolution come from?

The answer might lie 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylonia, according to History.com. The Babylonians are believed to be the first to hold recorded celebrations for the New Year. The 12-day-long celebration, Akitu, allowed them not only to reaffirm their loyalty to the king, or crown a new one, but also to pledge to the gods to pay their debts and return borrowed objects. For their ‘good behaviour’, they believed the gods would bestow favour upon them for the year to come. If not, there would be divine consequences!

The Romans too had similar traditions. New Year’s Day was a time when senators would swear they had upheld the laws and city leaders and soldiers would take an oath of loyalty to the emperor. Incidentally, the month of January, is named after the Roman god Janus. He is the god of beginnings, transitions and time, among other things and is depicted as having two faces – one looking to the past and the other facing forward to the future.

The Romans may be long gone, but their legacy lives on. Come the turn of the year, our eyes turn inwards. We look at selfimprovement, review our past mistakes, confess our wrongdoings, seek atonement and try to sharpen up in general. Ultimately, much like the Babylonians and Romans, we seek to reaffirm the best parts of ourselves, while leaving the dross behind.

Whether you’re looking at a quick behavioural tweak, or a huge personality overhaul, you’re taking part in a tradition that goes back centuries. I wish you all the best sticking to your resolutions. Happy New Year!

詞彙表

a clean slate 從頭開始、既往不咎
turn over a new leaf 翻開新篇章,改過自新
resolution 決心
improve 提高、改善
reflect on 反省、回想
transgression 罪過
resolve 下決心
refrain from 忍住不…
vow 誓言
celebration 慶祝活動
reaffirm 重申
pledge 保證
swear 發誓
take an oath 宣誓、立下誓言
self-improvement 自我提高、自我改善
review 回顧
wrongdoing 過錯、不當行為
atonement 彌補(過失、過錯)

測驗與練習

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. True or False? New Year is associated with starting fresh.

2. What did the Babylonians believe good behaviour during Akitu would bless them with?

3. What distinguishing physical feature does the Roman god Janus have?

4. In what way are contemporary people much like the Babylonians and Romans?

5. Which phrasal verb used in the article means ‘remove problems or find solutions’?

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處。

1. A person who is genuinely sorry can be forgiven for their ______. Just say sorry!

resolution                vow                    pledge               transgression

2. Please ______ from smoking within hospital grounds.

refrain                    reaffirm               reflect                review

3. Young man, I suggest you go to your room and ______ on your bad behaviour!

celebrate                 reflect                 swear                pledge

4. If you give me one more chance, I promise I’ll ______.

clean slate       turn over a new leaf     take an oath      self-improvement

5. Thank you all for coming to my wedding. It’s a ______ of our love for each other.

improve                  celebration           oath                  review

答案

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. True or False? New Year is associated with starting fresh.
True. If the New Year means anything, it means starting with a clean slate and turning over a new leaf.

2. What did the Babylonians believe good behaviour during Akitu would bless them with?
They believed it would bless them with good favour for the year ahead.

3. What distinguishing physical feature does the Roman god Janus have?
Janus has two faces – one looking to the past and the other facing forward to the future.

4. In what way are contemporary people much like the Babylonians and Romans?
We seek to reaffirm the best parts of ourselves, while leaving the dross behind.

5. Which phrasal verb used in the article means ‘remove problems or find solutions’?
‘Iron out’. “The idea of using the New Year to iron out our flaws and improve ourselves is not a new one.”

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處。

1. A person who is genuinely sorry can be forgiven for their transgression. Just say sorry!

2. Please refrain from smoking within hospital grounds.

3. Young man, I suggest you go to your room and reflect on your bad behaviour!

4. If you give me one more chance, I promise I’ll turn over a new leaf.

5. Thank you all for coming to my wedding. It’s a celebration of our love for each other.