When Did the Millennium End?
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
Question:
Why do some people think the second millenium 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.
Answer:
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 will have 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 that year was over, we 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.)

Birthday
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 first year is the year 2001, and it will remain the year 2001 until we FINISH it, then we celebrate the first birthday of the new millennium!

Just count the years.       Happy Counting!       Orville
Millennium Celebrations

There were "Millennium" Celebrations at the end of both 1999 (999 years) and 2000 (1000 years). 

So we had two good Millennium Celebrations!

Orville

The Y2K "Bug"?

Some people seemed 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.

Last updated 29 March 2002
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