A NEW Year is a great time for a fresh start – but where does the tradition come from? It is with the Romans that our traditions seem the most familiar.

When the early Roman calendar was no longer in synchronisation with the sun, Julius Caesar decided it was time to make a change. After consulting with the best astronomers and mathematicians of the time, he introduced the Julian calendar, which more closely represents the modern calendar we use today.

Caesar declared January 1 the first day of the year, to honour the god of new beginnings, Janus. The Romans would offer sacrifices to Janus, who had two faces — one that looked forward to the future and one that looked back to the past.

On December 31 Romans would imagine Janus looking back over the past year, and over the year ahead, and this would inspire them to make resolutions, to make themselves better people moving forwards, as well as forgive their enemies for things that happened in the past.

These days, our New Year’s resolutions tend to be more about self-improvement, rather than letting go of old vendettas, and it is far easier to make a change these days, now that there are movements to get on board with.

One such initiative, being run by organisation Alcohol Change UK, is Dry January. Dry January is the annual movement through which millions of people give up alcohol for the month of January. Dry January is also anyone hoping to make a positive change to their health and potentially their bank balance.

Another massive movement at the moment is veganism. With many people moving to a plant base diet, it is easier than ever to avoid consuming animal products in your diet, which makes it a great time to give Veganuary a go, where people commit to eating a vegan diet for the month of January.

Fresh off the back of your New Year’s resolutions, I decided to bring you a recipe that is perfect for those of you continuing your health kick. Pappa al pomodoro is a Tuscan soup made with tomatoes and bread. It is a soup that can be served either hot or at room temperature, with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with fresh basil leaves – purists will argue that the original recipe does not include parmesan cheese, although it can be a delicious addition to the dish.

My recipe for Pappa al pomodoro will be suitable for both vegans, and those who have given up alcohol, because Italians have been known to use copious amounts of the latter in their cooking too.