During the Middle Ages, people also took moments to reflect and vow to do better in the New Year.
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The Medieval Podcast is a podcast entirely devoted, obviously enough, to medieval people, subjects, and curiosities. And even though it might seem like the audience for this kind of material would be rather niche, that is not necessarily the case. For example, last year host Daniele Cybulskie invited professor R. Howard Bloch to talk about cathedrals – a subject many people might be interested in, especially considering that the words cathedral and church are oftentimes used interchangeably (and sometimes erroneously) to refer to religious Christian buildings. However, as Philip Kosloski explains in this article, whereas all cathedrals are churches, not all churches are cathedrals.
The first episode of this year was, as one might expect, about New Year’s resolutions — medieval New Year’s resolutions, to be precise. Medieval people certainly made vows for the new year. In fact, Cybulskie goes through the “secret ledger” (that is, the diary) of a Florentine named Gregorio Dati who, on January 1, 1404, “wrote down his good intentions […] to keep himself accountable.”
As Cybulskie explains, “Medieval people also took moments from time-to-time to reflect and vow to do better. In the diary of Gregorio Dati, an Italian merchant born in the 14th century, we can see resolutions tied to this urge to face a new year as a better man.”
Most of Dati’s resolutions, Cybulskie goes on, aim “at how he wishes to be a better Christian. He writes, ‘since my birth 40 years ago, I have given little heed to God’s commandments,’ and his three resolutions are aimed at rectifying this.”
You can listen to the whole episode here.