Millennial Questions

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
Millennial Questions

When does the next millennium officially begin?

Although January 1, 2000, has a millennial ring to it, the new age actually begins on a less resounding date: January 1, 2001. Common sense might suggest that the year 2000 is the dawning of the third millennium, but it is in fact the waning of the second.

The first millennium began in C.E. 1. There is no year zero in our calendar: the sequence of years passes directly from 1 B.C.E. to C.E. 1. Adding a thousand years to the year 1 equals the year 1001, marking the start of the second millennium. Add another thousand to reach the beginning of the third millennium: January 1, 2001.

There is no doubt that both New Year's 2000 and 2001 will spark huge celebrations–one because it is the true millennial milestone, and the other because there is nothing quite like the numerical elegance of January 1, 2000. Popular opinion, however, overwhelmingly favors the 2000 celebration: all the Times Square hotels are booked for December 31, 1999, and the various millennium tours arranging for you to celebrate on top of Mount Kilimanjaro or at the base of the pyramids are scheduled for the end of 1999, not 2000.

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