The Facts About The Millennium

Published in the Hollister Free Lance, January 15, 1999
Dear Editor:

Most people don't know much about our calendar. They know the names of the months, how many days a month has, and that every four years is a leap year. And most of the time they don't need to know any more.

However, as the end of the millennium is approaching, it is being discussed in the news and other media. Unfortunately, those people writing about it don't always know what they are talking about. That is why I was especially disappointed with the Kid Scoop in the January 6 Free Lance. It is supposed to educate children, but couldn't manage to get the basic facts correct.

The article said that "1999 is the last year of the 19th century and the past millennium!" Wrong on both counts! First, we are in the 20th century, not the 19th. I think most people know that the upcoming century is the 21st century.

Second, 1999 is not the end of the millennium; the year 2000 ends the 20th century (and the millennium). January 1, 2001, is the start of the 21st century (and the third millennium). Why, you may ask?

Simply, there was no year zero. The calendar is dated from the supposed birth of Christ. That year was called 1 AD, not 0 AD. This means that the first century ran from 1 AD through 100 AD. Once that is realized, it's obvious that the 20th century runs from 1901 through 2000.

So when Kid Scoop said that "The year 2000 will be the beginning of a new century and a new millennium," they are wrong. If you want to celebrate the final New Year's Eve of the 20th century, book December 31, 2000, not 1999.

Next week: Why not every fourth year is a leap year as most people believe....

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