Off topic. Settle a bet about definition of "millenium" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I have always assumed that the second millenium, according to our calendar, began on January 1, 2001. I've recently had people, who are more knowledgeable than I in history, insist that the new millenium does change on 1-1-2000.

As I understand the argument of the others, the church authorities who set and have adjusted the calendar determined that Jesus lived the first 365 days of his life in the year zero, and that on the first anniversary of his birth the year one began. To me this is counterintuitive, but my mind is open to hear the facts.

I thought AD for Anno Domini, latin for in the year of the Lord, would have counted the first 365 days of Jesus's life as being "in the year of the Lord."

I am aware of the facts explained by the unfortunate Time magazine article depicting the work of the 6th century monk Dionysius Exiguus and about the historical inaccuracy of the estimation of Christ's birth. My question does not involve estimating when Jesus was born. My question only involves the definition of the second millenium according to the current calendar.

Second question, see if you can guess my usual pen name on this forum.

-- Slickernapeeledonion (, March 10, 1999


Would it not be the start of the third millenium? The first millenium being from 1 - 1000, the second being from 1001 - 2000. Just a question tis all....

-- (cannot-say@this.time), March 10, 1999.

I would have thought that the birth of the new millennium starts at the changeover of midnight December 31, 1999, and then shall take the full 366 day cycle to complete when it then in turn gives birth to the following year 2001 that shall take the next 365 day cycle to complete when it likewise in turn shall give birth to the following year 2002, and so it goes....

When we celebrate New Year aren't we celebrating the birth of a New Year and all the possible prosperity it hopes to bring.

-- Don't (, March 10, 1999.

Yeah, third millenium. Brain cramp on my part.

-- Slick (yo@yo.yo), March 10, 1999.

Actually according to the acedemics there was no year 0 therefore the next millennium begins in 2001 (the acedemic millennium?). But for all the rest of us it starts in 2000. For others on this discussion group it all ends in 2000 ;^)

LM Got extra firing pins?

-- LM (, March 10, 1999.


I agree with you. I laughed when I read what you wrote, but it is so true. I for one plan on living to be very very old.

-- (cannot-say@this.time), March 10, 1999.


That's so funny. For a moment there I forgot that we were all toasties gonna be served up on mushroom clouds.

-- Don't (, March 10, 1999.


This bet can never be settled to anyone's satisfaction, because you're not dealing with facts, you're dealing with definitions. If you accept one definition, you get one answer, and if you accept another definition, you get a second answer, etc. You aren't going to change anyone's mind. But here are some relevant observations:

1) As you point out, Dennis the Short missed Christ's birth by somewhere around 4 to 6 years. Christ was really born at least 2003 years ago. What little evidence we have suggests Christ was born sometime in the spring, but his birthday was moved to December 25 in order to co-opt a heathen midwindter celebration as a Christian event. Much easier to declare a celebration a Christian event than to abolish it, you know. Why we've decided to begin the year a week *after* Christ's arbitrary birthday is a mystery to me.

2) Dennis the Short also forgot that *everyone* lives the first 365 days of their life in their own year zero. Nobody celebrates their first birthday until they've been alive one year. (During the first year, we first give a baby's age in days, then in months). But Dennis forgot about this, and started his arbitrary calendar with the year ONE. Essentially, Dennis decided that Christ was a year old the day he was born. This is the notorious off-by-one bug programmers fight all the time.

3) Since Dennis was doing his retrocalculations in the 6th century, numerous other errors crept in -- an exact count of past years was kept in several places. Unfortunately, they didn't agree with one another. The exact number of years between when Dennis *thought* Christ was born, and the year Dennis *thought* he was living in, can never be known.

4) Dennis's arbitrary system thus defines the year of Christ's birth as the year one. Applying strict logic from this silly starting point, we find that each century must therefore begin a year *after* it actually does. There are still many people who were forced to memorize this error in school, and who continue to accept it as an article of faith without ever wondering how it came about or what it might mean.

5) One odd result of this blunder is that the elapsed time between 1 B.C. (one year *before* Christ was born) and 1 A.D. (one year *after* Christ was born) is only a single year. Nonsense like this still doesn't prevent people like Arthur C. Clarke from insisting that somehow an entire year passed without ever happening at all. Maybe Clarke thinks some aliens came and stole it while nobody was looking?

6) Meanwhile, of course a new millennium begins every instant.

7) Biblically speaking, a millennium has nothing to do with a thousand decimal years. It was simply the time of the second coming. I don't know exactly how some people decided that God uses the decimal system and likes round numbers. Everyone should know God uses binary.

Anyway, what the computers are making abundently clear is that the important instant is when all those digits change at once. If there's any silver lining at all to this y2k business, it's that the nonsensical insistance that we wait a year before suddenly realizing the century changed last year, should experience a long-overdue retirement.

And speaking just for myself, I think if we're in any position to celebrate anything at all on January 1, 2001, that in itself is cause for another celebration. And any counting-challenged people still around will have twice the reason.

PS: You might read some of the essays (even a whole book) by Stephen Jay Gould on this subject. He'll give you both more details and more analysis than you would have thought possible. And make it fascinating at the same time.

-- Flint (, March 10, 1999.

WHAt????? DO yOu iNFidELs foRGet abOuT BC????? dO NOt THOse yeARs couNt????? DO yOu JAckALS THinK thAt THe DInOSAurs ARGuEd abOut sUCh foOLIsh THiNGS?????? SILenCe, BAbOonS!!!!!!

-- Dieter (, March 10, 1999.

Alright I'll settle this right here and now. I don't know anything about this "Dennis the Short" but I was just reading form an article that some roman dude when creating the calender started it with year one. So if you were to ask scientist or historians or calender type guys you would find that it would not have been a full 2000 years till january 1, 2001. {1[year 1 first year of all in orignal calender]+2000[2 milliniums]= [equals]2001[secound millinium][space oddyse]}

-- Jean Cook (, March 10, 1999.

And what about the time we lost when the (western) world adjusted the calendar form Julian to Gregorian?

Maybe we get a break here and 12.31.99 won't relly happen on time ; o }

-- Greybear, who never doubted for a moment that it was Rob who started this question.

- Got Clysdoptras?

-- Greybear (, March 11, 1999.

The last day of the 2nd millenium is 12/31/2000. The 3 rd millenium starts on 1/1/2001. No year 0 in calendar. Think about it, the first decade would have ended with the last day of the 10th year, first century with the last day of the 100th year, first millenium on the last day of the 1,000th year etc. However the Masses have made up their minds that the millenium starts on 1/1/2000 and well thats that. Although it does give us the excuse to repeat the Millenium parties on 12/31/2000 and do it right. Also smaller crowds and for me with y2k less anxiety.....

-- (, March 11, 1999.

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