Alonzo Weston

New Years’ Day finds us with a lot of new people walking around. Even the people we know are strangers today. We may appear strange even to ourselves today.

New Year’s Day is the day where you put all those resolutions to work in becoming a newer better you. You begin the work of crafting a better version of yourself or a whole ‘nother person through exercise, diet and frugality.

This new person may last a few days or a lifetime, depending on willpower and gumption.

According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals while 80% fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions.

Roughly 55% of New Year’s resolutions are health-related, like exercising more, eating healthier and reducing financial debt. Unrealistic expectations are a big reason these resolutions fail.

Dr. Carly Moores, an associate lecturer and registered nutritionist at Flinders University, advises against trying to make too many changes at once. That’s why most resolutions fail.

“Start with small changes and continue to build on these or try to tackle one change at a time,” Moore said in a New York Post story. “Try to set yourself goals, reflect on your progress towards these, acknowledge that change can be hard and results won’t happen overnight, or even in the first two weeks of the new year.”

According to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll, 80% of Americans surveyed felt their lives would be better in 2020. And that number stretched across demographic lines. But the optimistic dipped somewhat when asked about the nation as a whole. Overall, 54% predicted better times while 34% predicted worse with 12% unsure. A poll of 1,000 registered voters reached by landline and cellphone from Dec. 10 to 14 participated in the poll.

Personally, I stopped attempting New Year’s resolutions years ago. I would go out the night before on New Year’s Eve and break all the resolutions either then or the next day.

But I’m always optimistic. Maybe it’s because we still honor that old family tradition from the south of eating black-eyed peas with ham hocks, greens and cornbread for good luck in the coming year. On New Year’s morning, the smell of black-eyed peas and ham hocks cooking in the Crock-Pot and waiting on the college bowl games sets my year off right.

Eating black-eyed peas, greens and cornbread on New Year’s Day is actually a southern tradition. No one knows how it began, but some say it was after the Civil War when Union troops took all the Confederate food supplies aside from the black-eyed peas.

Another belief is that it originated with Sephardic Jews who settled in Georgia in the 18th century and brought that tradition with them to America.

That’s a more relaxing and tasty way to bring in the New Year. New Year’s customs in other countries seem much more dubious.

For example in Denmark, residents toss broken dishes at their neighbor’s houses for good luck. Here in America you’d start the new year in jail after that celebration.

In Spain, the tradition is to eat 12 grapes at midnight — one grape for each stroke of midnight in the hopes that will ensure the next 12 months will be filled with luck and good fortune.

In China, New Year’s Day is a day to clean your house from top to bottom to clear out last year’s residue. To ensure the good luck doesn’t get swept out with the bad, you’re supposed to sweep the house inward, collect the dirt and throw it out the back door instead of the front door to avoid sweeping away any lingering fortune.

In Scotland, the first person who crosses your home’s threshold in the new year is required to bring you an assortment of symbolic gifts such as a coin, salt, bread, coal and whiskey. For me, the scotch would be enough.

I’ll just settle for being a better person than I was last year in my relationship with others and in life.

Alonzo Weston can be reached


Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWeston.