Thursday, January 02, 2020

Happy 2020!

I send out a monthly newsletter to several hundred friends and fans, based largely on the subjects covered in my books, but often ending with a personal note. Yesterday I expressed the pleasure I take when starting a new decade or (less frequently) a new century or millennium. (Among other joys, each century or millennium brings a presidential election, and that's always fun.)

Predictably, I got a complaint that the 2020s won't begin until January 1, 2021. That's based on the "fact" that there was no Year Zero between BC and AD (or between BCE and CE, if your taste runs in that direction). While this is true, in theory, in fact wasn't any BC or AD, either. Did August Caesar have a calendar running from 27 BC to 1 BC, which on December 31, 1 BC, he replaced with a new calendar starting January 1, 1 AD? Nah. For him, those two momentous years were plain old 753 Ab urbe condita and 754 AUC, dating from the theoretical founding of the Roman Empire. The New Year wasn't the start of a decade, or a millennium. It wasn't even the start of a new year by our standards, though I confess that the math is beyond me.

Anyhow! You can celebrate your decade (century, millennium), and I'll celebrate mine. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford


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