Our Time Honoured Debate of New Year



Written by Sally Sumner


The revelling to bring in the New Year is a time-honoured tradition, and I am sure has been played out again this year. As we head into 2020 this year, it also marks the start of a new decade or does it?

In recent years there has been debate about when a decade begins and ends. For some people, the next decade will begin Jan. 1, 2020, and end Dec. 31, 2029. For others, it won’t start until Jan. 1, 2021, concluding Dec. 31, 2030. To the average person — well, many of us — it can be very confusing. But what is correct? Should we celebrate the beginning of a new decade now or wait until next year, when it seems a little passe?

In 1999, people got into a spat over when the new millennium began. At the centre of the dispute was the Naval Observatory, whose calculations of time influence government satellites, your iPhone and more. The agency’s position was that the new millennium began Jan. 1, 2001. That’s because the observatory uses a modification of the Julian date to measure time. The modified system is used by astronomers and geodesists, who study the size of the Earth. (The original Julian date begins Jan. 1, 4713 B.C.)

So that settled it, right?

Not so fast. In 525, a monk named Dionysius Exiguus wanted to pinpoint the date for Easter. So he devised a calendar system called anno Domini, which was based on when he believed Jesus was born. A.D., which is Latin for “the year of our Lord,” is commonly used today. One glitch: Because it identified the date of Jesus’ birth as Year 1, not Year 0, there is a time gap.

Because of this, many people insisted the new millennium began Jan. 1, 2000. It was widely debated, and everyone had something to say.

Unlike the definition of daylight-saving time, the definition of a decade is not governed by legal guidelines. But the debate got people talking.

Using a modified Julian date, the 2020s will begin Jan. 1, 2021. But that is out of sync with common usage. According to Emily Brewster, a senior editor at Merriam-Webster, a decade in popular culture is not defined by scientific convention. Because of this, the 2020s will begin Jan. 1, 2020, and end Dec. 31, 2029.

Regardless of which way you look at it, the New Year is a time of starting afresh. A chance to change, make good, alter things about ourselves and our ways.

I would have one word to say on that.

Wouldn’t it be great is everyone, anywhere, went into every day like that, where they ‘learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.’ – Albert Einstein

Happy reading everyone and I wish you a very Happy New Year from Everyone in the elocal team.


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elocal Digital Edition
January 2020 (#226)

elocal Digital Edition – January 2020 (#226)