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What Year Is It?

Depends on where you are standing. When I was in college I had a professor who was slightly insane. If you are thinking, “obviously, he is a college professor”, then you have me there, but this guy was just awesome. The class was something on anthropology, my post-semester note filing system was good for looking up information from past classes, but poor for keeping track of exactly where that information came from. Even so, I have never been much of a note taker, so when I write something down verbatim, it must have been great, or at least interesting.

So wrap your head around this (more or less a quote, but I’ve tidied it up for easy reading):

The day on which New Years Day gifts are exchanged in England for the historical year 1367 falls in 1366 in Florence and Venice, but in 1367 in the Italian port of Pisa, where the year begins on the previous March 25th. If you sail from England on January1, 1366, and land in Pisa in mid-February, there it will be 1367 already. Travel on to Venice, and arrive before the end of February, and you will be back in 1366. Leave after March 1 and it will be 1367. Ride into Florence and you will be back in 1366 again. Return to your boat at Pisa on or after March 25 and it will be 1368. Sail on to Provence and you will find yourself back in 1367. Stop in Portugal or Castile on your return journey – where the date is still reckoned from the advent of the Romans – and it will be 1405.

Yeah. I know. It actually isn’t all that strange compared to what most people in England use at the time, what’s called the regnal year. Essentially, instead of starting at the, give or take 4 years, birth date of Christ – Anno Domini – the date is based on how many years into the monarchs reign they are. 1366 being, “the ninth year of King Richard II”.

Thankfully there is only one calendar in use today, the Gregorian one.

And the Hebrew calender, the year is 5772 right now.

And the Islamic calender, the year is 1433 right now.

And a few Hindu calenders, the year is 2068, 1934, or 5113 (depends on which one) right now.

And the Coptic calender, the year is 1728 right now.

And the British regnal calender, the year is 60 (Elizabeth 2) right now.

And the Buddhist calender, the year is 2556 right now.

And the Chinese calender, the year is possibly 4709  right now.

And a few others as well. Given all the rationals for how we number the years, the approximate birth of Jesus is as good a start point as any. So can’t we all just cut the CE and BCE bullshit? The calendar is based on the Birth of Jesus, secular or religious, that is why, it’s such a waste of time to muck about pretending otherwise. Change the calendar to count from a more suitable start point or call it like it is.

One other thing. There is no fucking year zero in the calendar we use now. 1 AD comes right after 1 BC. It isn’t rocket surgery, although I admit I have no idea why there is no year zero.

Okay, so two other things. The millennium did not start on Jan. 1 2000. It started on Jan. 1 2001.

Think about it…

(the professors name was Burton. Or Bartlett. Burnson? Burdan? You can see why I didn’t mention it.)

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. 2012/01/13 at 14:38

    Interesting. The Japanese use a calendar system in addition to the Gregorian system that counts years based on the years of the reign of an emperor. I remember seeing this when I was reviewing documents for a large lawsuit involving a Japanese company.

    And insane professors were some of my faovrites. I remember a zoology professor discussing the fact that some male insects will bring the female they want to mate with some food (usually another insect) in order to keep her from eating him. The professor thought this was the basis for why men bring chocolates to someone they are dating. 🙂

  2. 2012/01/13 at 18:12

    You know, I had heard that. I didn’t think to look it up when I was figuring the random assortment I picked.

    This guy was a ‘nam veteran, had 2 giant fingers and a thumb on one hand. They fused the 4 partially remaining fingers together to form 2 big ones. He was hilarious, the type of person who has no filter at all, they think it, than it spills out their mouth.

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