Making New Year's resolutions this year? Deputy Curator Georgina explores some of the most popular ones on stamps. 

A postcard depicting a robin with the message 'A happy new year to you'.

New Year Greetings Card, Manufactured by Raphael Tuck and Sons, 1866

History of the Resolution

Making New Year’s Resolutions is not a new concept and is believed to have begun as far back as 4000 years ago with the Babylonians. Their new year was in March not January, but they made promises to pay debts and return borrowed items in the hope of carrying good favour with the gods. We see this again with the Romans, who moved new year to January and made promises to the God Janus for the coming year. New Year’s Resolutions have now become more of a secular past-time and it is generally believed that they are not kept. Resolutions tend to be more about self-improvement and below I’m hoping to explore some of the most popular.

Popular Resolutions:

Do more Exercise

Two stamps depicting cycling through the ages from the penny-farthing to modern day.

Penny-farthing & Road Racers, 9p & 13p, Cycling, 1978

One of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions is to do more exercise, whether this to be for health reasons, to lose weight or just to get more active and cycling is a great way to do this. In 2016 nearly 2 million people cycled everyday or nearly everyday, which proves you can make it part of your everyday life and hopefully see a little more of your local area. Remember those lockdown walks? That counts too!

Do more for the Environment

4 stamps designed by children to document environmental problems.

Stamp Set, Protection of the Environment, Children’s Paintings, 1992

We all know that the current way we live is having a detrimental effect on our planet. The above stamps were drawn by children to explain some of the main problems, such as damage to the ozone layer and the increase of the Green House effect. The competition was held by Blue Peter and Royal Mail and the stamp products that accompanied this issue also contained the children’s work.

Take up a Hobby

Two stamps, one depicting a Scottish golf course with players and the other a man playing a guitar and another playing a drum.

Muirfield, 25p, Scottish Golf Courses, 1994 and African & Caribbean, 42p, Sounds of Britain, 2006

Taking up a hobby can be quite a commitment, to learn a new instrument requires dedication and a lot of time. The above stamps look at two very different hobbies, including playing golf on the Scottish course, Muirfield. Golf has been played at Muirfield since 1891 when it was only 16 holes, the year later it was increased to 18 for the Open. What about starting your own stamp collection? Read our step by step guide here.

Lose weight

Stamp depicting a painted portrait of King Henry VIII.

Henry VIII, 26p, 450th Death Anniversary of King Henry VIII, 1997

Many people see the new year as a fresh start to be healthier and potentially lose weight. In his youth Henry VIII was fit and athletic, it wasn’t until his mid-forties that he had a serious injury to his leg and became increasingly incapacitated. It was then that his lifestyle and lack of exercise led to his waist expanding from 32 inches to 52.

Save Money

Partial sheet of stamps from the Great British Fashion issue with 5 different designs.

Stamp Set, Great British Fashion, 2012

We all have upcoming projects that we need to save for; a holiday, down payment on a house or even a wedding. Cutting back in some areas can help to contribute to the pot when according to the Great British Wardrobe report we each spend on average £1042 a year on our wardrobe.

Watch less TV

Stamp depicting a television camera used by the BBC.

TV Camera, 7½p, BBC & Broadcasting History, 1972

This is one of my worst habits and many of us want to stop watching as much television in the new year. With Netflix, iPlayer and countless other streaming sites, you can really binge on some of your favourite shows. Ofcom suggests that 7 in 10 of us watch back to back episodes in one sitting from these catch up services.

Eat more Healthily

A smiler sheet of stamps containing fruit and veg stamps along with labels and funny stickers.

Fruit & Veg, Smiler Sheet, 2006

Who knows how much fruit and veg we should eat each day, it’s forever changing. One thing I think we can all admit is that we should be eating some. The above smiler sheet allowed you to adorn your fruit and veg stamps with eyes, lips and even a tie.

Spending time with Family

2 stamps depicting postcards with families at the seaside.

‘Where’s my little lad’ & Punch and Judy Show, 25p & 35p, Centenary of Picture Postcards, 1994.

Getting enough quality time with family can be difficult especially during the pandemic. I love the above stamps that look at picture postcards featuring families at the seaside eating ice cream and watching a Punch and Judy show, which is always a slight risk in this country. Get inspired on how to write your own perfect postcard in this blog.

Look after your Wellbeing

Set of 10 stamps depicting different smiles.

Stamp Set, Greetings Booklet Stamp ‘Smiles’, 1990

We need to look after both our physical and mental health after such a tough year. Smiling releases endorphins which is good for your health and your stress level. It’s also contagious so if you can smile and have a giggle you’re likely to start a trend.

Hopefully one of your resolutions will be to come and visit us here at The Postal Museum.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

– Georgina Tomlinson, Deputy Curator (Philately)

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