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When does the millenium really start?

Brief by Central Staff

Y2K – February 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

When does the new millennium start?

Technically, not until 2001, at least by most reckonings.

For starters, there was no year 0. So the first decade would be the 10 years from 1 to 10, inclusive, with the second decade starting in 11. And the first century would comprise the years from 1 through 100.

Which means the first millennium ran from 1 to 1000, with the second millennium starting in 1001, and thus the third millennium begins in 2001, not 2000. Next year is the end of a millennium, not the start of one.

In popular parlance, though, the new millennium starts when the digits roll over, and that’s 2000, and doubtless there is a mathematical way to justify this.

In theory, these numbers represent how many years have passed since the birth of Jesus, and are based on the reckonings of a medieval monk who miscalculated — Jesus was probably born between 7 and 4 B.C.

Given that, those who predicted the world would end precisely 2,000 years later have been wrong — that millennium happened in 1994 or so, and the world seems to have rolled right along anyway.

Although 1999 doesn’t get the attention 2000 does, it offers a celestial oddity.

This month, February, will not have a full moon. January had two, on the 1st and 31st, and so will March, on the 2nd and 31st.

Also note that 2000 will be a leap year, even though 1900 wasn’t. Ordinarily years divisible by 4 are leap years, but century years leap only when they’re evenly divisible by 400.