When Does the Decade Begin, 2020 or 2021?

When Does the Decade Begin, 2020 or 2021?

Another decade is being celebrated at the dawn of 2020, a continuity of the idea promulgated and accepted in the year 2000. Although it has become widely acceptable to those using the Roman calendar, many are still skeptical about the years marking the decade since 2000, and the controversy dated back to the years preceding 2000 that many believe were erroneously miscalculated.

Toward the end of 1999, the actual year ending the millennium became a serious subject of discussion. The controversy was centered on calculation of dates and times according to the Roman calendar which was mainly based on Jesus’ birth period. The argument was about the start of the 21st century and the third millennium after the birth of Jesus Christ.

For those who believed that the year 2000 was the end of the century, it was a time to celebrate. To others who were curious about the authenticity of the date, it wasn’t time to celebrate. They point out that contrary to the belief of many, the 21st century and the new millennium do not begin on January 1, 2000, but on January 1, 2001. Since there was no year 0, the first century ran from year 1 through 100, the second century from 101 through 200, and so forth. Thus it is argued that the 20th century, which began on January 1, 1901, and the second millennium, which began on January 1, 1001, will not end until December 31, 2000.

There is an additional point to consider. According to Awake series that dealt with the issue in the late 1999, our calendar divides time on the basis of being either before or after the birth of Christ. Scholars now recognize that Jesus was born earlier than previously thought, thus making the calendar’s pivotal point inaccurate. Opinions differ as to when Jesus was born, but Bible chronology points to the year 2 B.C.E. By that reckoning, the third millennium after Christ’s birth actually began in the fall of 1999.

At midnight, December 31, 1999, many people around the globe celebrated the start of a new millennium. But while it is “natural for a year with such a round number” to be celebrated, says a statement from the Royal Greenwich Observatory, in Cambridge, England, “accurately speaking, we will be celebrating the 2,000th year, or the last year of the millennium, not the start of the new millennium.” The confusion arises from the transition from B.C.E. to C.E. determined by Bede, a seventh-century historian and theologian, who endeavored to date events according to the birth of Jesus. No zero year was included, so the time between the first day of 1 B.C.E. and the first day of 1 C.E. was only a year. Consequently, the first millennium started with the first day of 1 C.E. and ended with the last day of 1000 C.E. The second millennium then started on January 1, 1001. “It is thus clear that the start of the new millennium will be 1 January 2001,” the researchers said. In any case, the celebrations will be based solely on the Gregorian calendar and not on the actual birth of Jesus, who is now known to have been born some time earlier than believed.

According to scholars, “the millennium actually turned several years ago. Sorry, but we all missed it,” states Newsweek magazine. The reason is because our calendar “rests on an arbitrary division of time,” supposedly based on the birth of Christ. But, the article notes, modern scholars believe that Jesus was actually born several years “before Christ.” According to Newsweek, that “means that we are already well into the third millennium by 1999.” The error was attributed to Dionysius the Short, who, in 525 C.E., was commissioned by Pope John I to develop a standard liturgical calendar. Dionysius decided to use Jesus’ birth as the pivotal point but erred in calculating it. “Historians will never know for sure exactly when Jesus was born,” says Newsweek. “Even the dating of Christmas, which celebrates his birth, is arbitrary. The church selected Dec. 25, scholars believe, to coincide with—and religiously counter—pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.”

However, a controversy was raging over just when the millennium was supposed to dawn. “The trouble started in the nation of Kiribati,” notes U. S. News & World Report. “The international date line used to cut right through the chain of islands: When it was Sunday in eastern Kiribati, it was Monday in western Kiribati.” The nation solved the problem by stating that from January 1, 1995, onward, the date line would go around its easternmost island, Caroline. That would mean Kiribati would be the first landmass to see the start of a new day. However, other nations, such as Tonga and New Zealand, wanted “first” status. According to the Royal Greenwich Observatory, the question is moot. “Since the sun shines on the South Pole from the September equinox to the March equinox, the millennium dawns first on the bottom of the Earth,” states the report. However, adds the Observatory, that will not be until January 1, 2001—not the year 2000

To understand why some claim that the third millennium from Jesus’ birth will dawn on January 1, 2001, consider this illustration. The Awake of November 1999 put it this way: Suppose you are reading a book that is 200 pages long. When you reach the top of page 200, you have finished reading 199 pages, with one more page to read. You will not complete the book until you come to the end of page 200. Similarly, 999 years of the present millennium, as commonly viewed, will have elapsed on December 31, 1999, with one year to go until the end of the millennium. By that reckoning, the third millennium begins on January 1, 2001. That does not mean, however, that on that date exactly 2,000 years will have elapsed from the date of Jesus’ birth.

So the beginning of the decade started from 2001, therefore, another decade should have started in 2021 not 2020. But as the Royal Greenwich Observatory stated, “the world celebrated the 2000th year or the last millennium, not the beginning of the millennium, if we are being accurate.” By omitting the facts and accuracy of times, those following the Roman calendar have consequently chosen to go by the round figures instead of the actual numbers.

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