Millennium 2001! Before the end of the year 2000, somebody will earnestly explain to you that the third millennium really begins on January 1 of 2001 -- I personally guarantee it! If you're female and you're halfway young and good-looking, it will be some jerk at a New Year's Eve party, and he will also have a lewd suggestion about how you and he should passionately celebrate the once-in-a-thousand-years event. You probably remember him from last year.

Yes indeed, there are still many people who argue passionately that this is the most important issue since the great peanut-butter controversy was finally settled for all time in favor of Chunky. The kind of people who worry about this stuff all have Internet sites, so you have a lot to choose from: If you don't believe me, just search "Google" at There you will find links to the first thousand of about 387,000 sites that deal with the issue. Actually, some of the 387,000 only want to sell you commemorative gear and don't necessarily have any strong feelings on the subject, but the majority of the web site owners seem to be humorless ideologues on the Millennium Issue.

What may surprise you is that many of the world's foremost authorities on time and calendars agree with the Internet ideologues. They point out most reasonably that Europeans had not yet acquired the zero (from India, through the Arabs) in the sixth-century, when Sythian Christian monk/scholar Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Small) decided that pagan Roman Empire dates were inappropriate for the Christian world. And so there was no year "zero" in his accounting. After quite tedious exegesis of Dionysius's texts (and they never forget the February, 1582, Papal Bull, Inter Gravisimas, of Gregory XIII) they all conclude that the fireworks went off a year early. Dionysius started with "one" rather than "zero", and everything else follows from that.

It doesnât seem to matter to all of these folks, ideologues and foremost authorities alike, that Dionysius was dead wrong on his reckoning of where (or rather, when) that "one" was supposed to be. We still don't know when it was. But everybody knows that Dionysius's supposed starting point, the birth of Jesus, didn't happen in that year "one" that he proposed. King Herod was already dead and buried by "one", and he's critical to the story. Without an accurate starting point for the first millennium, arguments about the beginning of the third are also pointless. That being said, the only possible purpose of this little article is to provide you with the dart you'll need to deflate the 2001 (or 2000) windbags.

We will for the moment leave aside all the geeks and freaks, who are so very exited about the millennial starting point, and go first to the "foremost authorities" for their opinions on the start of the Millennium:

The US Naval Observatory thinks it's 2001:

The Royal Observatory at Greenwich agrees (and quotes the Times of London from 1799):

France, apparently regretting the world wide acclaim garnered by the 2000 Eiffel Tower fireworks display, is going all-out in 2001 and issuing a pretty new postage stamp to commemorate the real millennium: The official French Government communiqué on 2001 is at It's in French, but it's short.

For more "official" sites and hundreds of other sites, some obviously ideological, try "the "Worlds Largest List of Websites on January 1, 2001 · etc.":

Good sense and a healthy attitude finally prevail!  The White House  Millennium Council agrees that it's 2001, but says we should celebrate both: "Greeting a new millennium is a once-in-a-thousand-years experience· letâs make the celebration last!"

If you want 2001 gear, you can buy it at or at or at any number of other Internet sites listed in the Google search link given above. Don't worry about ordering late -- it'll be much cheaper after January 1.

For general information about calendars, go to

Is that all clear? See, didn't I guarantee you somebody would explain it? And any females who don't get to talk to me on New Year's Eve can contact the Lewd Suggestions Committee after January 1 for a refund.