Today, resolving to change and improve yourself and your life is an almost unavoidable part of the transition to a new year. Though it’s a pretty well documented fact that most New Year’s resolutions fail, we keep making them—and we’re not alone. The custom of making New Year’s resolutions is most common in the West, but it happens all over the world. Take a look back at when and why the New Year’s resolution tradition got started, and how it’s changed over the course of history.
The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.
A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. Named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.
For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year. Now popular within evangelical Protestant churches, especially African-American denominations and congregations, watch night services held on New Year’s Eve are often spent praying and making resolutions for the coming year.
Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are a mostly secular practice. Instead of making promises to the gods, most people make resolutions only to themselves, and focus purely on self-improvement (which may explain why such resolutions seem so hard to follow through on). According to recent research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. But that dismal record probably won’t stop people from making resolutions anytime soon—after all, we’ve had about 4,000 years of practice.
Cleaning Tip – Toys
Occasionally washing small plastic toys in the dishwasher is an excellent way to keep germs at bay. Use a twist tie to keep the toys in place on the upper rack or in the silverware basket. Clean marks off of plastic toys with a toothbrush, to which you have applied a solution of baking soda moistened with some dishwashing liquid, then sponge it off. Use rubbing alcohol to remove tough stains.
If a stuffed toy is marked ” all new materials,” you can safely machine-wash it. If it has long hair or other long fibers that might get caught in the agitator, put it in a mesh bag before placing it in the machine. If a stuffed toy can’t be washed, put it in a plastic bag filled with baking soda and shake thoroughly, then brush off the powder over a sink or outside.
Christmas is so full of wonder, meaning and tradition. But, where did all these things that we now call “Christmas” come from? Let’s briefly sketch the origin and development of what we now celebrate as Christ’s birth.
Christmas is the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ’s birth, held on December 25 in the Western Church. The traditional date of December 25 goes back as far as A.D. 273. Two pagan festivals honoring the sun were also celebrated on that day and it is possible that December 25 was chosen to counteract the influence of paganism. To this day some people feel uncomfortable with Christmas because they think it is somehow tainted by the pagan festivals held on that day. But Christians have long believed that the gospel not only transcends culture, it also transforms it. In A.D. 320 one theologian answered this criticism by noting, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it.”
There are two specific theories for why we use the date of December 25th for Christmas.
First, people and religions of the day celebrated some sort of holiday around that time. From Jewish Chanukah to Pagan Winter Solstice to Germanic Yule to Roman Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Birth of the Unconquered Sun); the sheer number of celebration days with trees, decorations, yule logs, mistletoe and feasts seem to point to a season of celebration to which Christians added the birth of Jesus as a counter-cultural event and possibly even an escape from the pagan holidays for early believers.
December 25th was the Saturnalia Festival of emancipation, gift giving and the triumph of light after the longest night. The Christian sees the truth implicit in this pagan tradition that reflects: Christ the Light of the world, His triumph over the night of sin in Luke 1:78-79:
“…Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
The second theory centers around the date “accepted” by the Western Church of March 25 as the Annunciation or Immaculate Conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb. December 25 is 9 months later and thus celebrated as the birthday of Jesus. Regardless of the possible reasons for the date, the church calendar was set in the West during Constantine’s reign while the Eastern Church held onto the date of January 6 for some time.
For centuries, Christmas was celebrated not as a single day, but as a whole season in parts of the world, beginning with this day, December 24, Christmas Eve. Perhaps the practice of celebrating the evening before the big day is an echo from ancient Jewish reckoning. Among earlier Jews, a day began at six in the evening and ran until six the following evening. Had not Moses written: “An evening and a morning were the first day”?
Christmas means “Christ-mass.” Although the date is a guess, the tradition of observing it goes back to at least the fourth century. Under the influence of the church, Christian traditions replaced pagan solstice festivals throughout Europe. Often the more innocent pagan practices (such as bringing in a Yule log, decorating with holly and the like) were carried over into the Christmas observance, transfigured with new meaning.
There are many reasons to get a flu shot. The number one reason is that it can save your life. The flu is no joke. The flu can kill, and it can kill fast. It has killed millions over the years and will kill millions more.
People always argue that you can still get sick even if you have had a flu shot, so what’s the point? While they’re not wrong, it’s important to know that flu shots can help decrease the severity of the flu, often cutting your down time in half. If downtime from an illness doesn’t bother you, think about the people around you. The more people that are vaccinated against the flu, the less likely it is to spread to others.
The holiday season is right around the corner which means spending time with parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, cousins, nephews, and nieces, all of whom might be of various ages and health conditions. The flu mainly attacks the “extremes of age”, like the very young, (whose immune systems have yet to fully develop) and the very old, (whose immune systems are waning). Protecting yourself means protecting the people around you.
Something that people talk about is, “I’ve heard the flu has nasty side effects.” The side effects are actually very few. And if people do experience them, they are usually mild and can include a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and mild headache. Basically a mini-flu. The vaccination does cause a mild reaction in some people, but that’s just your immune system reacting to an invader, so when the real deal shows up, your body is ready to do battle and fight it off. It seems like a small price to pay when you look at the bigger picture.
Many people don’t understand why or even know they need a new vaccination every year. The flu shot pinpoints protection. It is specifically designed each year based on the projected strains of the virus that will most likely show up. Although the percentages are not exact, the flu shot usually reduces your risk of getting the flu by 60 to 70 percent. Get this year’s version early and your body will have a better chance of fighting off what comes your way.
Cleaning Tip – Disinfecting
The makers of home-cleaning products appear to be committed to making your house not only clean and sparkling, but also downright antiseptic. You really only need to disinfect occasionally and when you do, use products sparingly. In recent years, manufacturers have introduced hundreds of everyday cleaning agents labeled antibacterial or disinfectant. However some cleaners that contain ingredients like dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride may breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Disinfectant cleaners that contain chlorine bleach, quaternary ammonium compounds, pine oil, or ethyl alcohol as active ingredients all work against common disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Bleach and ethyl alcohol tend to act faster than ammonia products, and bleach works particularly well on food or dye stains. Ethyl alcohol is flammable until it dissipates.
When you want instant disinfecting because you need to prepare food on a surface that was just touched by raw meat or meat juices, use a disinfectant appropriate for the surface, preferably a product containing chlorine bleach. Be sure to read the product’s labeling carefully and follow any instructions about use on surfaces that touch food. Ado allow the product to “dwell” for the amount of time recommended in the directions. Or simply wash with soap and warm clean water, rinse, and sanitize using a mixture of one teaspoon of bleach per one gallon of clean water. Allow to air dry.
Normal cleaning is sufficient for walls, draperies, bedding, floors, and other dry surfaces where germs do not survive long. Ordinary cleaners can suffice even for toilet bowls. Unless mold or mildew is a problem, you generally don’t need disinfectants in your bathroom at all. Cleaning thoroughly with an all-purpose cleaner or bathroom cleaner and hot water is usually sufficient.
After the past 3 years our current Office Manager Cheryl is leaving us. It has been a wonderful time with her here at the Cleaning Genie. Her husband is being transfer with his job, so their family will be moving away. She will truly be missed by us, the ladies and the customers.
Our new Office Manager will be Connie Wright. She has several years experience in our type of business. She is very excited to become part of the Cleaning Genie Team. She will be here to help with all your needs as Cheryl did. Please feel free to call the office and speak to her about any concerns or wishes.
Use a clean lint-free cloth to wipe any dirt or fingerprints from the case, keypad, and display. If needed, wet the cloth with a bit of water to clean the display. Avoid getting cell phones wet. If moisture gets under the casing, remove the battery cover and take out the battery, SIM card and memory card. Insert all the pieces into a mason jar or any container with an airtight seal that is filled to the brim with rice. Close the lid and leave it undisturbed for at least 24 hours. Afterward, reassemble the phone, turn it on, and try it out. You may have full or at least partial functionally. If the phone does not work, it will need to be professionally serviced.