This is the Sunday edition of Culture Study — the newsletter from Anne Helen Petersen, which you can read about here. If you like it and want more like it in your inbox, consider subscribing. Americans love New Year’s resolutions because we are perpetual strivers obsessed with self-improvement. The tradition of a New Year’s celebration, paired with the desire to clear one’s debts, dates back to both the Babylonians and, later, the Romans, who pegged it to the two-faced god Janus (god of dualities and transitions!) All of that makes sense, in a Wikipedia history sort of way, but I think the contemporary understanding of resolutions has a lot more to do with how the holiday, like all American holidays, has been overloaded with significance intended to simultaneously make us feel like we’re failing personally
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