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The Second Millennium -- When Did It End?
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
Why did some people think the second millennium ended on December 31, 1999.  I know that many had the great celebration then, but to my knowledge, it did not mark the end of the century.
You are right.  Just count the years.

The end of a year is on 31 Dec, when the last day of the year has finished.  The end of the millennium is when the last day of the last year of the millennium is finished.

The Count
Here is the count: We count the year when it is over.  So on 31 December, 1999, we finished 999 years.  On 1 January, 2000, we ENTERED the 2000th year (assuming, of course, that the corrections in the calendar, etc., are correct).  So when this year is over, we will have FINISHED 2000 years.  That seems pretty simple.  (That assumes, of course that the calendar is correct.  The adjustment of the calendar is another, separate question.)

It is like a birthday: When we are born, we are in the first year but we have not become ONE YEAR OLD until we have FINISHED that first year.

I have my 1st birthday party at the END of 12 months.  I have my 21st birthday when I FINISH 21 years, not when I enter the 21st year.  Likewise, we had our 2000th birthday when we FINISHED 2000 years, that is, as the clock rolled over at the END of 31 December 2000.

At that point we ENTERED the 3rd millennium, the FIRST year of the new millennium.  This was year 2001, and it remained the year 2001 until we FINISHED it, then we celebrated the first birthday of the new millennium!

Just count the years.

To Celebrate Year 2000

We still celebrated the arrival of the year 2000, which was a great milestone in history.  Of course there were great commercial interests in mounting a major world celebration.

Thus there were "Millennium" Celebrations at the end of both 1999 (999 years) and 2000 (1000 years).  So we had two good Millennium Celebrations!

Cheers for Years of the Third Millennium!

Originally written 1999
Last Revised 13 April 2002
Page updated 1 January 2010

The Y2K "Bug"?
Some people seem to confuse the year 2000 computer problem with the end of the millennium, too, even though there is no relation. 

It is just a numerical programming problem.

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD

Copyright © Orville Boyd Jenkins 1999, 2004
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Please give credit and link back.  Other rights reserved.

Y2K and Christianity
Why We Celebrate Christmas in December
Visit OBJ's Y2K Resource Centre

Links for the Year and the Millennium:
End of the Millennium   |  Christianity & Y2K   |  Why 25 December?   |  Calendars and Cultures   |  Holiday Calendar   |  OBJ's Ideas and Interests   |  Jenkins Millennium Culture Centre   |  Around the World   |  Blue Mountain Cards   |  Christian Music   |   Africa Online
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