The Last Line

Closer Magazine Winter 2013-14

THE LAST LINE www.fredolsencruises.com 67 It’s that time of year again. You know the one, when we all make impossible promises to ourselves – we will eat less, drink less, exercise more – that are broken within a week. A week? Who am I kidding? I usually manage 24 hours. Rituals that draw a line under the 12 months just past and welcome in the New Year are nothing new, although they were not always as self-interested as today’s New Year’s Resolutions, which are mostly to do with making ourselves look and feel better. Go back 4,000 years, to the ancient Babylonians, and the New Year was celebrated in late March as winter ended and spring began, and all about honouring the gods to ensure a fruitful 12 months ahead. It was the Emperor Julius Caesar who changed New Year’s Day to January 1, in honour of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, who had two faces and could therefore look back to the past and ahead to the future. The Romans celebrated the New Year with parties and sacrifices to Janus, and they started the custom of making resolutions, mostly about being good citizens. The promises changed to prayers and fasting when Christianity became the official religion of Rome. In the 18th century, American Puritans returned to the old tradition of promising to help others. These days the arrival of a New Year is marked in a host of different ways. London and Sydney are famous for their firework displays. In Spain, eating 12 grapes just before midnight is supposed to set you up for a good year ahead. In Cuba, they eat pork on December 31 as pigs represent progress and prosperity. My favourite is Sweden and Norway, where rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve. Whoever finds the nut will have 12 months of good fortune. Presumably as long as they don’t choke on the nut! More people these days make resolutions compared to a century ago; unfortunately our success rate is not great. In fact studies have found almost nine out of 10 of us fail to keep our promises. Sad to report ladies, that the men are better at achieving their goals than we are – possibly because the gents set more realistic targets, especially when it comes to losing weight. Both sexes fared better when they told friends what they wanted to achieve. Something to do with not losing face. And as for what to achieve? Well, not surprisingly, being healthier, quitting smoking and losing weight are high up the list, likewise getting a better job, saving money and becoming more organised. Quite a few of us promise to watch less TV and fewer films (maybe that comes under the ‘more exercise’ heading), while others are determined to read more books. If you are trying to fight the flab, may I recommend a cruise or two? True, you have to shun all those tempting pastries and desserts but with fitness classes and gyms on all the cruise ships – and all right on the doorstep, so to speak – there really is no excuse not to knock off a few pounds. Fred. Olsen’s menus feature fish dishes and lighter options to make things easier too. As one of the nine who traditionally fails miserably when it comes to the usual resolutions, I have decided this year on one that will be easy to keep – to tick off more of the places on my ‘bucket list’. That includes Sydney, the Panama Canal (which is 100 years old next year), and Monaco, when the Grand Prix is in town. Did I say I have one resolution? Actually there are two. The other is to keep on cruising. Now that’s one I definitely don’t want to fail! Jane Archer Cruise journalist and Telegraph Travel cruise expert


Closer Magazine Winter 2013-14
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