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Some Millennium Calendar Clarifications

Former Dukie Teos Abadia sent us the following comments on calendars and the
millenium. Thanks Teos!

Hi guys,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

If the topic comes up again you might note that the millennium has another interesting "date twist". NPR had a great story on this (link below) that reinforced my understanding of this interesting cultural phenomenon.

It is interesting to note that although the Gregorian calendar is certainly the global calendar, it is not the only one. It will be a different year for several cultures (some historic, and basically all are now using the Gregorian for most official tasks):

  • 2753 old Roman calendar
  • 2749 old Babylonian calendar
  • 5760 Jewish calendar (interestingly, this calendar has a leap MONTH every 4 years)
  • 1420 Muslim calendar
  • 2544 Buddhist
  • 4696 Chinese Calendar
  • 5119 Maya great cycle (A cycle is about 5,000 years, and this one ends 2012, and at this time it is foretold that
    the world will end in a great deluge).

Secondly, while it is true that the year 0 means that we should really be celebrating in 2001 (for the true definition of millennium), it is also true that the year 2000 and year 2001 (as marked from the birth of Christ) have both come and gone due to a mathematical error by the person who created the calendar.

Julius Caesar in 44BC set the overall pattern and established the leap year every 4 years. This is the Julian calendar (and our favorite! - DBR). However, there were problems with it, including that the dates still were driven by historical events (king births/elections, founding of cities). The pope asked Deonicious (Dennis the Short) to revise the calendar, taking all the many histories and kings across the empire (Roman, Jewish, etc.) into account to set a fixed date for Easter and other events. It was a tough task, and he made a calculation mistake of at least 4 years. Biblical historians largely agree that Christ was born no later than 4BC, so the actual year 2000 (the date marking 2000 years since the Birth of Christ) would have been in 1996 or 1997.

The name "Gregorian" comes from Pope Gregory who ordered the Julian calendar to be reformed. One other interesting factoid. The idea of apocalypse is that it issues in a millennium, but my understanding is that the date when the apocalypse occurs is not set. Therefore, it could really occur at any time, and the new millennium would then begin. (Please correct this if wrong).

So, what does this all mean to me? Hey, 2000 is just a number, and it is wrong by just about all measures. If you stop to ponder the meaning of time, if you research some astrology, if you pause to learn a little history, if you stop in wonder to consider the way cultures have struggled to grasp the passage of time ephemeral... well, then this year is worth the trouble. Cheers to those who take the voyage!