Ancient Babylon: New Year’s Partay

By N Mark Castro

SINCE the prediction of the Mayans that the world would end did not happen, and wrecked as much devastating havoc as the Y2K, and that Jesus the Christ isn’t walking among us today, I therefore conclude that God isn’t into Numerology.

So that party goes on.

US-based friends would invite me to wild parties they’ve got lined up while I check on my self-imposed chains and wonder when. Perhaps when the clock strikes midnight I’d be unleashed?


Who knows?

The possibilities are mind-boggling.

We’ll get there.

But if you think that your New Year’s Eve party is wild then I say, pooh-pooh. You don’t know how to party the way the Babylonians do.


Sunset on Babylon

4,000 years ago, long before Jesus the Christ walked the earth, and long before the Prophet Mohammed was even born, the Ancient Babylonians knew how to welcome the New Year.

They partied for 11 days.

Which at least delayed those morning-after embarrassing antics they did at the office.

So, Amber, if you think your office party is hot.

Think again.

Ancient Babylonians sold women pretty much the way they do now which, really, makes it the world’s oldest profession.

The festivities that originated in Babylon found their way to Greece and, finally, to the conquering Romans who picked up the same celebration and merriment: juicy drinking bouts, revelry and, of course, orgies, and named the New Year after Janus, the god of beginnings, whose two faces could simultaneously look back to the previous year and forward to the future.

Janus means “archway” in Latin, and was the Roman god of gateways and beginnings, often depicted as having two faces looking in opposite directions. 

Accordingly, —

As a god of motion he looks after passages, causes the startings of actions, presides on all beginnings and since movement and change are bivalent, he has a double nature, symbolised in his two headed image.

The Romans observed the New Year till late March, and their calendar constantly changed by a succession of different emperors that it became out of synchronization with the sun. It wasn’t until Julius Ceasar put his foot down and established what has become known as the Julian Calendar that January 1 was  celebrated as the New Year, but in order to synchronize his calendar with the sun, he had to let the previous year go for 445 days, of course, that didn’t come with an overtime pay.

But Janus has remained to be the symbol of this new beginning, which basically gave birth to the decision-making process during this period, hence, New Year’s Resolutions.

And when it comes apples and oranges type of choices, no one beats the insightful analysis of Sheena Iyengar, who is a popular management theorist and a professor at Columbia Business School.

Her infamous jam experiment in a luxury food store is still taught and talked about among experts. What she did was set up tables of free jam samples. One offered six samples and another 24.

While shoppers were more likely to stop at the table offering the wider selection, those who were faced with fewer choices were 10 times more likely to buy (30 per cent against 3 per cent), unlocking a succinct understanding of a person’s behavioral psychology when it comes to choices. After all, people tend to falter in front of a multitude of choices because they never knew their own balance, thus, spending a lifetime of dependency on others and situations, validating Sheena’s central premise:

“We frequently pay a mental and emotional tax for freedom of choice.”

But for those armed with a better understanding of themselves, then Michael J. Mauboussin‘s new book can help you harness your intuitive thought process.

Think Twice explores why smart people make dumb decisions and exposes classic errors in the cognitive processes behind our decision making.

In contrast to what Sheena has done, Mauboussin uses the example of die-throwing when people, if asked to throw a six, instinctively apply speed and force to the throw; if asked to throw a one, we gently dribble the die across the table.

This is, of course, illogical since the chance of throwing either number is equal and unaffected by speed of roll. The PDF version of the book even includes an extensive analysis of baseball scores, and the rest of the case samples and theories provides an exposure of revealing false logic.

After all, we do know that —

And no amount of warning can ever compensate what you will discover and learn for yourself. Though your desires, New Year’s Resolutions, and choices seem complicated at a certain point, or project dramatic consequences that provide validation to your otherwise empty lives, the end result is simple, really.



About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the Southeast Asia Director of JUMP DIGITAL Asia, which is an internationally-awarded and fully integrated digital marketing agency with 5 out of 10 offices in the ASEAN region. He is also the Secretary General of the Philippine Business Club Indonesia, managing and assisting the traffic of investments between the Philippines and Indonesia. He shuttles between Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, and Australia. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on December 27, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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