The celebration of the third millennium was celebrated in error all around the world on the eve of December 31, 1999. According to astronomers, we actually celebrated the first day of the last year of the second millennium. They say the new millennium actually started on January 1, 2001.
If you search the Internet, many articles blame this supposed error on a missing year zero in our dating system. They say that by mistake AD 1 is preceded by the year 1 BC on the Gregorian and Julian calendars. However, if our calendar is really missing a year, then we actually celebrated the eve of the new millennium on December 31, 1998, because our calendar is supposed to be one year higher than the correct mathematical calculations. If this sounds confusing, it is. People have made it confusing, though.
Can it be proven that the men who created and implemented our dating system, Dionysius, Bede and Petau, all knew about zero and used it in their calculations, including our dating system?
To answer these questions, we must first clarify a few misunderstandings. First, there is not supposed to be a year zero in our dating system. Zero years are no years. However, a zero point is supposed to end the year 1 BC at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1 BC, and then within the fraction of a second, the first millennium was supposed to begin on January 1, AD 1. There are two years between point 1 BC and point 1 AD. Therefore, 1 BC is supposed to be followed by the year AD 1 and not by “year” zero as most people seem to think. This transition is true for all the points on the number line. Each point ends and starts a new year. In other words, each year exist between two points. Notice that the points in the BC years are numbered at the beginning of the years; whereas, the points in the AD years are numbered at the end of the years. All numbers are calculated from a zero point, which causes the positive and negative numbers to travel in opposite directions, but time travels forward in one direction. Thus, year 1 BC is completed at the zero point and year 1 AD starts at the zero point.
When referring to years on a number line with a zero point, there are two year ones, two year twos, two year threes, etc. Historians claim that they use a calendar with only one year between point 1 BC and point AD 1 (although they do not use the word “point”). In the same breath, these people claim that there is a missing year zero. However, if only one year exist between point 1 BC and point AD 1, then there is a missing year, but it’s not a zero. The missing year is either year 1 BC or year AD 1. In this case, point zero is missing, but not year zero. Notice that on a calendar with only one year between point 1 BC and point AD 1, both years are using each other as a zero. This causes them to share the same year.
If we actually had a missing year zero, then the AD years would be minus a year from the correct mathematical calculations instead of plus a year. Mathematically, this is impossible, because a year consist of 12 months, and zero years means absolutely no months.
The equation C = N – B + 1 is used when calculating from a BC year into an AD year. Many people use this equation thinking it’s for a missing year zero, so they use it in their calculations. However, scientists use 1 – n when calculating into the CE years from the BC years. The n represents the BC year. In other words, the math is the same. This formula is used only when referring to the entire BC year as a whole, simply to place it at its completion. When reference is not to the entire year, it is incorrect to add a year. When calculating from January 1, though, it can be a bit confusing if you’re not careful. For instance, if a couple were married on January 1, 3 BC, what year did they celebrate their fifth anniversary? The equation would look like this: 3 BC + 5 years = AD 2. Does this mean that the couple celebrated their fifth anniversary in the year AD 2? No, but they did celebrate it at point AD 2 on January 1, AD 3. Keep in mind, the January at point AD 2 is in the year AD 3.
When asked the year in which a person is born, the completed number of the year is always given. This whole number says that the person was born on December 31 at the stroke of midnight, even though most people are not born on that date. The month in which a person was born can be revealed by using mixed numbers. For example, if the date used is AD 1981.08333, it reveals the year of 1982 in the month of January. The number to the left of the decimal represents the completed year, but the number after the decimal point represents the fraction of the next year. In this case, the next year was 1982, and the year in which the person was born in.
According to Dionysius, the inventor of the Anno Domini system, the word nulla was used in place of zero in the English translation of his Easter table. It is evident that Dionysius knew about fractions. For instance, in Argumentum 4 it says to “add the fourth part” and “divide those by 7, 2 are left over.” In Argumentum 8 it says, “If nothing should be left over, there is a leap day.” This is evidence that Dionysius used zero and fractions in his calculations.
Bede, a theologian, historian and chronologist, wrote that Julius Caesar invaded Britain in the year 693 AUC, which was also 60 years before the incarnation of Jesus. He also stated that in the year 798 AUC, Claudius invaded Britain and concluded the war within a few days, which was also the 46th year from the incarnation of Jesus. This information is enough to tell us if Bede compared the two years accurately. Comparatively, 798 AUC – 693 AUC = 105 and 60 BC + AD 46 = 106. Because there is a difference of one year, most people believe this is proof of a missing year zero. However, by completing the year 60 BC at point 59 BC, the extra year is eliminated. In this way, year 60 BC ends at the same point as 693 AUC.
As for Petau, the French Jesuit theologian, he wrote that year 1 BC preceded the year AD 1. Mathematical evidence shows this statement to be true; and therefore, proves that Petau did know about zero and that he used it in his calculations.
In conclusion, on December 31, 1999, at the stroke of midnight, the world celebrated New Year’s Day on January 1, 2000, completing only 1,999 years at point 1999. It was yet another year before the completion of 2000 years, and the start of the third millennium on January 1, 2001 at point AD 2000. This celebration error had nothing to do with an inaccurate dating system. This New Year’s Eve error was due to a mathematical misunderstanding about numbers and how they work in relation to years.
Isn’t it time to give Dionysious, Bede and Petau the due credit they deserve for being the intelligent people that they were, especially in their time?
*Dionysius Exiguus’ Easter table – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
*History of English/Book 1 Wikisource