Allan Takes Aim Blog

Be resolute in your resolutions

Posted on: 31 December 2012

If people say your New Year resolutions aren’t any good because you didn’t make them on 1 January, don’t believe them until you have carefully checked your family tree for any trace of Scottish ancestors, in particular, ancestors from the Highlands or Western Isles.

However, if you find you can lay claim to even the faintest trace of any such ancestry and for reasons I’ll explain later, you are one of the select band of people who, by right of tradition, can also make New Year resolutions on 13 January.

You’ll notice I said trace of Scottish ancestry, not trace of Scotch. If the latter was a qualification, thousands of people who celebrate New Year’s Day on 1 January would (regardless of their origins) claim the right, because on 13 January the probability is they would still have more than a trace of good – there’s no bad – Scottish whisky left in them.

But it is not only descendants of people from the Highlands and Western Isles who can make resolutions on 13 January, in other countries people of the right ancestry can do the same. Why is this? Although not widely known, in parts of the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles two New Year’s days are celebrated.

Just in case you think that two New Year days is only a clever marketing ploy by Scotland’s whisky industry, or an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s longest Hogmanay celebrations – 31 December to 12 January – it isn’t.

The fact is that the two New Year days came about because of Pope Gregory X111. In 1582 Gregory XIII approved a new style calendar in which he fixed 1 January as the first day of the year instead of 25 March. Despite the advantages Gregory’s new Calendar had over the Julian Calendar, religious divisions made it slow to be accepted.

France, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal adopted the new calendar in 1582, Sweden in 1583, some German states along with Belgium and the Netherlands in 1584, Hungary in 1587, and Switzerland in 1812. In 1752, Britain, which had also adopted it, also found it necessary to make a further adjustment of 13 days and so 2 September became 14 September.

Efforts were made to tell people in the Highland and Islands about the change but, as happened when weights and measures went to tonnes, litres and metres some people took a long time to adapt. (Be honest, now, how many of you know what a quintal is?)

Also, because in 1752 communication was slower than it is today, many years passed before some Highland and Island communities became aware of the change – or so they said. When they became aware, but because their lives had not been affected, they carried on celebrating their Old New Year.

Like all good Scots to whom New Year’s day is the year’s most important day of celebration, my forebears thought it made sense to celebrate the new, New Year’s Day as well. Wisely, it seems to me, the tradition has continued to the present day.

This means, of course, that if, by heredity, you can celebrate two New Year Days, you can also have two lots of New Year resolutions, something that gives you a big advantage over the rest of society.

On the one hand if for some reason you break your 1 January resolutions, you can remake them on 13 January. On the other hand, if you forget to make your resolutions on 1 January, you can still make them on 13 January – sobriety permitting.

I am not going to testify as to either the state of my faculties, or the date on which I made my resolutions for 2013, but here they are:

1. I will not listen to people who accuse me of bias;
2. I will not argue against the IPCC’s warnings of climate
change doom;
3. I will not write critically of individual politicians or
4. I will not criticise the government;
5. I will not ask politicians who support legalisation of
Euthanasia to try it first;
6. I will not oppose same sex marriage; and
But wherever you come from and even if there’s no trace of Scottish blood in your veins, I wish you all a Happy New Year today and many more in the future.

Blog: Allan Takes Aim; web:; mail:


1 Response to "Be resolute in your resolutions"

i’m glad i have seen this website. and i just want to thank you for taking time to write for us. cheers. lista de email lista de email lista de email lista de email lista de email

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