Pop culture has a lot of opinions about the world and sadly, some of those opinions ignore fact. And when people choose to go with the popular mindset against all reasonable evidence, I’m concerned. We all should be concerned.
If we could go back to the Garden of Eden and if on Adam’s first day, God gave him a calendar—just play along—what year would the calendar say it was? Year 0 or Year 1? In that it’s the first year of existence for everything, I have to believe it would say “1”. The first year would not end until 365 days later. OK, 359 days later since Adam was created on the sixth day.
But to the point, the 366th day would be the first day of the SECOND year and therefore, Year 2. The first century would have ended in Year 100. Obviously and without question, a century is 100 years long and would have to run from Year 1 to Year 100. Similarly, the first millennia would have ended in Year 1000. Ending in Year 999 would have been 1 year shy.
OK, so you want the calendar to start with Year 0? Let’s consider a human life. When you are born begins your first year and you celebrate your first birthday (actually, the first anniversary of your birth) a year later–when you are 1 year and 1 day old. That was your first year. You would never refer to it as your naught year. Your life begins with 1, not 0.
As to the anniversary, you have to realize that a year is from January 1 to December 31, not January 1 to January 1. Therefore, any other one-year period runs from the date in one year to one day before the same date a year later. Someone born on March 14th has finished their first year of life on March 13th, a year later. March 14th is the start of their second year and is the anniversary of their birth. Pop culture defines birthdays differently but facts…
So 2010 is the last year of the decade: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years to make a decade and the count starts with a year ending in a “1”. Just as the first decade began in Year 1 and ended in Year 10. And the same goes for centuries (Year 1 to Year 100) and millennia (Year 1 to Year 1000). That means, as many argued, that the 21st century began in Year 2001, not 2000!
As for nomenclature, back at the last “00” point prior to 2000, it was “Nineteen Hundred”. So 2000 should have been “Twenty Hundred”. Besides, “twenty” has only two syllables. It’s shorter, faster, and easier to say than “two-thousand”. Only in formal certifications did anyone ever say “One Thousand, Nine Hundred, and… (in English). We finished Nineteen Ninety-Nine and moved into Twenty Hundred. That makes this Twenty Ten, not Two Thousand Ten. (There’s not even a good way to write it!)
If we can’t get away from Two Thousand, we’re going to have problems later. Provided the world lasts that long, when future generations look back at the years between 2000 and 2999, they will refer to them ALL as the Two Thousands with no differentiation. When we look back though, we see the Nineteen Hundreds as the equivalent time period with intervals such as the Nineteen Twenties, Nineteen Thirties, etc. Are future generations doomed to have no such distinctions? Or are they going to be encumbered by long expressions such as Two Thousand Twenties, Two Thousand Thirties, etc.?
Only time will tell. But Americans are lazy. Before the year goes much further along, I’ll place a bet on Twenty Ten becoming the accepted term for this last year of the first decade in the 21st century.
By the way, and for the record, the Battle of Hastings was in Ten Sixty-Six (1066), not One Thousand and Sixty-Six.