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It’s Not the End of the Decade!

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This article will be short and straight to the point. It may also prove to be the most insignificant thing I’ve ever written. It is largely inconsequential. But I can’t let it pass.

I can’t begin to count the number of times over the last several months that I’ve heard or read someone say something about the end of the decade. It usually comes in conjunction with a “Best Of the Decade” series, be it songs, movies, books, athletes, or whatever.

In Sunday’s Oklahoman (our local newspaper) there was yet another headline referring to the end of the decade. And this morning, December 30th, among the many emails I received was an appeal by a certain ministry for funding based on the urgent need as we leave this decade and enter a new one. No!

2019 is not the last year of this decade! 2020 is. I know it sounds weird, but don’t be misled by the number 20.

When Dennis (Dionysius) the Small, native of Scythia (b. 465 a.d.) created our current calendar, he didn’t include a year Zero. He went straight from 1 b.c. (although he didn’t call it that) to 1 a.d. The first Christian millennium began with the year 1 and ended with the last day of the year 1000 (not 999). The second Christian millennium began with the year 1001 and ended with the last day of the year 2000.

So when does the next decade begin? It actually begins on January 1, 2021. It’s not that hard to figure out using simple arithmetic. Everyone knows there are 100 years in a century. Therefore, the year 1999 was the 99th year of that century. This means that the 100th or last year of the previous century was the year 2000. Don’t be thrown off or misled by the numeral 2 in front of all those zeros. The year 1900 was the last year of the previous century, not the first year of the twentieth century. The same is true of 1800, 1700, 1600, all the way back to 100, which was the last year of the first century, according to the reckoning of good old Dennis the Small.

Thus, the first year of the current century was 2001. The tenth year of the current century was 2010. And the tenth year of the second decade in this century is 2020 (not 2019).

Here’s an easy way to figure this out. If I gave you ten pennies, you would begin counting with the first, not with 0. The last penny, obviously, would be the tenth, not the ninth. Likewise, the last year of the previous decade was 2010 (not 2009). The first year of this present decade was 2011. Thus the last year of this present decade will be 2020 (not 2019).

You say, “Who cares?” Well, you’re probably right. It doesn’t matter much, except for the fact that a simple mistake like this one drives me nuts! So, maybe I’m the one with the problem!

In any case, enjoy the last year of our current decade. It starts on Wednesday, January 1st, 2020 and ends on December 31st, 2020. When that day approaches, please publish your list of the “Best Of” the decade!

 

3 Comments

Hard disagree. Extremely Important Rant Incoming. :)

While there may not have been a year "0", and we may be one year closer to the beginning of the "Anno Domini" period of the calendar than we think, this is not the controlling issue.

Rather, decades are any ten year period - the period from Jan 1, 1873 to Dec 31, 1882 is properly a "decade." From my date of birth to the tenth anniversary of my birth is properly a "decade."

The next decade after 2019 will be called the twenties. There's no escaping it. It is extremely confusing for 2030 to be a part of the "twenties" and for 2020 to be a part of the "teens".

So, yes, a decade began on January 1 2011 and will end at the end of this year. That decade could be accurately called "the 201st decade since the beginning of the calendar." If you want to do your "decade in review" lists in the decade 2011-2020, that's totally fine.

But the 20s started on Wednesday morning, and will continue until 2019. The teens ended Tuesday night, and started on Jan 1, 2010. For all practical purposes, those are the decades that matter. #ilovethe90s
Glad you wrote this “insignificant” piece, Pastor! I enjoyed it and haven’t thought much about it until now. Thanks for the correction and observations.
Great observation! I am going to tell all my family this one, just to see if they figure it out. May God Bless you Sam in this last year of the decade ☺

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