Make My Day: MILLENNIAL FEVER: CATCH IT!
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- If you've ever thought that young people (i.e., p= eople younger than you) had sex on the brain, you were right. A 1999 survey=
commissioned by condom-maker Durex showed that almost half the world's you= ng people hoped to conclude last year's millennial celebrations with sex. T= he poll covered nearly 5,000 people, between the ages of 16 and21, in 14 co= untries.
According to the survey, 63 percent of Canadian youngsters hope to = ring in the new year with a bang -- pardon the pun -- making them the most = lustful (or the most hopeful) in the world. Meanwhile, only 15 percent of t= he people polled in Taiwan hope to make love on January 1, 2000. In England= , a little over 60 percent of the young people hoped to have sex, while nea= rly half of Polish and Czech celebrants were hoping to create their own mil= lennial fireworks.
Unfortunately -- if the little perverts' wishes came true --those s= ex-crazed teens had sex for nothing. Well, not for nothing, but it wasn't m= illennial sex they had. I realize I'm still in the minority here, but I kno= w a secret about last year's so-called millennial celebration:
It was a year too early.
That's right, January 1, 2000 was
"But," you sputter angrily, "if it was the year 2000, that means2,0= 00 years have gone by! That's what marketing people and TV networksall over= the world told us!"
No, it only means the 2000th year started, not ended. I knowwhat yo= u were told by the marketing people and travel agents who hadbillions of do= llars invested in huge parties and special travelpackages. But I have the b= acking of the Royal Observatory Greenwich (thekeepers of the world time sta= ndard, Greenwich Mean Time), the U.S. NavalObservatory (keepers of the U.S. tim= e standard), the (U.S.) NationalInstitute of Standards and Technology, and th= e World Almanac. Even notedscience fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke says so,= and nobody messes withArthur C. Clarke!
If you still don't believe me, look at this way:
In Western Civilization, our calendar is based on the year ofJesus =
Christ's birth. We recognize his birth year as 1 AD. The yearbefore that wa=
s 1 BC, not 0 AD. Now add 2,000 years -- or two millennia-- to 1 AD. Unless=
you're using a faulty calculator, you should come upwith 2,001, Or, to beat this dead horse a little more, January 1, 2001 isthe real
Or, to beat this dead horse a little more, January 1, 2001 isthe real
But wait! It gets even more confusing. If you think yousputtered an= grily earlier, you'll throw a royal fit when I tell you thatwe missed the r= eal start of the third millennium.
Yes, that's right. We missed the start of the third millennium,beca= use it happened all the way back in 1997.
The problem started way back in 525 or 526 AD with Dennis theShort,= a monk and astronomer from Scythia (now SW Russia). Okay, hisname wasn't r= eally Dennis the Short, it was Dionysius Exiguous, but mosthistorians call = him Dennis the Short. Besides, I hate typing "DionysiusExiguous."
Dennis was working for Pope John I, translating Easter tablesfrom G= reek into Latin. He decided to correct the dating system whichused "Anno Di= ocletani," and measured the years since the Roman emperorDiocletian, who is= famous for persecuting Christians. Dennis wanted toglorify Christ, so he c= reated a dating system based on the life ofJesus.
The actual date of Christ's birth had been lost by then, soDennis u= sed Roman sources of information -- which were wildly inaccurateto begin wi= th -- to determine when that date was.
Dennis decided the date of Jesus' circumcision, which happenedeight= days after his birth, should be the New Year. He called the NewYear AD 2, = picking AD 1 as Jesus' birth year. He picked that particularday, because ei= ght days earlier (December 25th) was the same date as thepagan festival, So= l Invictus. This is all based on the Julian calendar,the calendar of the An= cient Romans, which we stopped using in 1582, whenPope Gregory removed 11 d= ays from it. Apparently, Gregory hated Mondaysso much, he got rid of 11 of = them.
The problem with Dennis' calculations is that according tohistorica= l and Biblical scholars, there is some serious dispute aboutwhether Christ = was even born in December. Based on historical, literary,and astronomical s= tudies, it's thought that His birthday was in thespring or fall. Needless t= o say, not only did Dennis really screw thingsup for us, he put Christmas i= n one of the coldest months of the year.
And it gets worse:
According to the New Testament, Jesus was born during KingHerod's r= eign. It is widely believed by the same historical and Biblicalscholars tha= t King Herod died somewhere around 4 BC.
Here's why: At one point during his reign, Herod decreed that all c= hildren under age two must be killed (I don't know why, but I think it's mo= stly because he was a jerk). Many scholars believe that Jesus would have be= en well under age two around 4 BC. But because Herod was dead by then, Jesu= s avoided losing His life to Herod's law. Thus, these scholars argue, Jesus= would have been between four and six years old on the date Dennis the Shor= t determined to be Jesus' birthday. In other words, Jesus was born four to = six years before 1 AD, "the year of our Lord."
How's that for irony?!
So if we count forward 2,000 years from 4 BC, the Christian millennium s= hould have actually started January 1, 1997, and this whole 2000 vs. 2001 b= usiness actually doesn't matter anymore.
Now if I could only use Dennis the Short's calendar screwup toexplain to= my wife why I missed her birthday... .