New Year's Resolutions: Exercise More, Eat Better, Take This Quiz?

By: Staff
Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Every January 1 we wrack our brains to come up with the best New Year’s resolutions yet -- ones we’ll (maybe, hopefully) finally keep. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of how this tradition got started, how it’s practiced across the globe and what your odds are for actually achieving your goals this year.

This was one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions in ancient Babylon.

The Babylonians were one of the first civilizations to start the tradition of creating New Year’s resolutions. And one of the most popular vows was to return borrowed farm equipment. January was often spent cleaning out the storage shed to find your buddy’s scythe.

In South America, people let go of the past and resolve to have a better new year by setting this item on fire.

Ecuadorian tradition includes celebrating the new year by building a dummy stuffed with old newspapers and firecrackers. This fake person represents something bad that happened in the previous year. Families put the dummy in front of their house and light it on fire at midnight, signifying that they are letting go of last year’s blunders and are ready to make resolutions for the new year.

What percentage of new gym memberships start between January and March?

Losing weight and getting in shape are two of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. According to the International Health, Sports and Racquet Club Association, one-third of all new memberships are purchased during the first three months of the year, and gyms get the most traffic in January when resolutions are fresh in people's minds.

Which mythical king is known for inspiring the New Year’s resolution tradition?

Janus was a mythical Roman king, and the first month of the Roman calendar, January, was named after him. Janus had two faces, which allowed him to look into the past and forgive his enemies while peering into the future and resolving to be kind in the new year.

What is the most popular New Year’s resolution in America these days?

Though all of these are in the top 10 most popular resolutions, losing weight has become the most common commitment that people make each new year. Maybe we’ve gotten smart about smoking and saving, but skipping dessert is still a struggle.

What percentage of Americans make resolutions each new year?

Approximately 50 percent of all Americans resolve to improve their life in some way each year. Studies claim that if you set a specific goal like “exercising twice a week,” you're 10 times more likely to accomplish your goal than if you make a vague resolution like “I'll lose weight.”

Now, of those Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, what percentage tends to keep their resolve?

Sticking to resolutions is tough and commitment does decline over time. After the first two weeks, roughly 70 percent of people who make a resolution are still sticking with it. This drops to 64 percent after one month, and after six months only 46 percent of the resolvers are still achieving their goal. But that’s almost half -- so keep up the good work, resolutionists!

Which one of these techniques is most effective in helping you achieve your New Year’s goals?

The act of writing down your resolutions is very powerful and can help you commit to your plan. You can add to the effectiveness by telling your friends and family about your goals so they can hold you accountable. Setting actionable goals with a deadline also helps you stick to your commitment.

Which New Year’s celebration involves traditional red packets?

The Chinese New Year occurs at the beginning of the Chinese lunar calendar, which is usually in late January or early February. Part of this tradition involves giving red packets of money to children and unmarried people. The Chinese also use this New Year’s opportunity to let go of grudges and wish prosperity upon their relatives and neighbors.

If you can’t pull it together in time to make resolutions on Jan. 1, what’s another great time to start a fresh beginning?

St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras are certainly celebratory times, and you may feel like vowing to quit drinking the morning after. But the spring equinox, which usually takes place around March 20, is an excellent alternative to the new calendar year for making resolutions. With spring on the horizon, the weather is warmer and you’re more likely to get outside and exercise!

Which celebrity comedienne made a New Year’s resolution to eat more carbs?

Kathy Griffin made a vow that she wouldn’t cut out carbs. Her new year was probably way more fun than most of ours.

What resolution does Kim Kardashian usually make?

Kim admits to never accomplishing her resolutions and has said she might start resolving to not having any resolve. That sounds like a commitment anyone can keep.

When it comes to the battle of the sexes, which side is better at keeping resolutions?

The guys win this one. Men are 22 percent more likely to accomplish their goals when they set a measurable objective. Women still hold their own with a 10 percent likelihood of achieving their goals when they share their plans with supportive friends and family.

Which disco supergroup wrote a song about New Year’s resolutions and the desire to do better in the coming year?

Swedish pop group ABBA wrote a song called “Happy New Year” in 1980. It includes inspiring lyrics like “may we all have our hopes, our will to try, if we don't we might as well lay down and die.”

Which of these resolutions was written by an American housewife in 1945?

With World War II in full force, the average American woman had a lot on her mind. In a newspaper article from 1945, one housewife listed her goals -- which include donating a pint of blood to the Red Cross, traveling only in emergency situations and putting forth her greatest effort for victory and permanent peace. Just going to spin class doesn’t seem so noble, does it?

Which was NOT one of Barack Obama’s New Year’s resolutions in 2011?

Obama quit smoking in 2010, so that resolution was already covered. In 2011 he committed to growing the economy, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class.

In which animated short film did Santa plead for help in finding the missing Baby New Year so that time could move forward and New Year’s resolutions could be made?

In “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year,” Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer must find the Baby New Year or the world may remain stuck in the current year.

In the fourth century, Christianity became the official religion of Rome. How did Roman New Year’s resolutions change?

Before Christianity ruled, Romans traditionally made resolutions related to forgiveness and being kind to others. As their religion changed, their resolutions tended to have more of a focus on prayers and fasting. Some Christians began observing the Feast of the Circumcision on January 1st and thus gave up their former revelries.

Which American theologian spent two years writing resolutions?

Jonathan Edwards made an art form out of writing New Year’s resolutions. He spent two years compiling a list of goals that he reviewed weekly. By the end of the project he had a total of 70 resolutions perfected. We wonder if one of his resolutions was to finish his giant list of resolutions.

The New Year’s custom of singing “Auld Lang Syne” to say farewell to the past and hello to a new year was born from this tradition.

This tradition began with the Scottish celebration of Hogmanay, which is a festive way to ring in the new year. In addition to merry-making and bonfires, Scots sing “Auld Lang Syne,” which was written by their native poet Robert Burns. Translation: Happy New Year!

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes