When Will a New Decade Start : 2020 or 2021?

by Madhvi Bansal

People are getting ready to bid farewell to 2019 with a bottle of champagne opening and glass clinking. The party is just getting started as the holiday season is upon us and we are stepping into a new decade… Or wait, are we?

This is the burning debate on social media and off it. There are some people consider 2019 as the end of the decade and are all set to welcome 2020 as the beginning of a new decade which will end in December 2029. While some are reluctant to let 2010’s to go by and regard January 2021 as the beginning of a new decade concluding in December 2030.

Why the confusion started? 

The cause for this confusion dates back to when the Gregorian Calendar was created. 

The Gregorian calendar is accepted globally today, also known as the Western or Christian Calendar. It consists of 365 days (366 days, in the case of a leap year), 12 months and 52 or 53 weeks. 

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This calendar came into existence in 525 when a monk named Dionysius Exiguus decided to device a method in order to determine the date for Easter. So he made a year-numbering system based on the time he believed Jesus was born and called at Anno Domini (AD), which in Latin means ‘the year of our Lord’. Now the Roman numerical system, which is used to number the year system does not have the number ‘0’. So the birth year of Jesus is marked as ‘1’ not ‘0’. Moreover, Exiguus while writing about the date of Easter didn’t use ‘zero’, he instead used the terms ‘nulla’ and ‘nihil’ which denotes ‘nothing’. So there never was zero, in the calendar we follow today, to begin with.

Therefore, if we follow this, the end of this decade will be on December 31, 2020. 

As in one of the Quora threads an individual answered to this debate along the following lines, where the person mentioned that fingers are counted from 1-10, not 0-9, hence, a new decade will begin from January 1, 2021. 

Yet, the people who consider the end of a decade on December 31, 2019, opined that the 1950’s start from 1950 and goes till 1959. So, the 2020s will start on January 1, 2020, and end on December 31, 2029. Thus, it is the beginning of a new decade in 2020.

Geoff Chester, an astronomer and public affairs officer at U.S. Naval Observatory says, “It’s one of those things where numbers don’t satisfy everybody.”

The same debate happened at the start of this millennium. Some people regarded 2000 as the start of this 21st century while others considered 2001 as the start of this millennium. We all know the former won at last.

Thence, no matter what team you are a part of, popularly December 31, 2019, will mark the end of a decade and that of 2010’s era; while January 1, 2020, will mark the beginning of a new one. So, prepare well to bid goodbye to this decade and welcome a new one with loved ones and joy. 

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