Posted by: mrpeatie | December 15, 2009

The Great Decade Debate

Is it a new decade or not?

As we approach the new year, the calendar will switch to 2010 and many will recognize this as the start of a new decade just like most everyone recognized January 1, 2000 as the start of a new century and millennium. The problem is, this is technically incorrect.

Sort of.

If you go all the way back to the start of the calendar we use, the first day was January 1, 0001. There was no year 0. This means that the first decade, or ten year period, went from January 1, 0001 through December 31, 0010 with the second decade starting on January, 1, 0011. This ten year cycle would never change during the course of the next 2000+ years so for those of us alive today,  the next decade technically doesn’t start until January 1, 2011. Yes, this means all the hullaballoo around the celebrations on December 31, 1999 were only because the numbers on the calendar were changing to 2000. We were not technically celebrating the start of a new decade, century, or millennium if you were counting from the beginning of our current calendar. Those all officially happened on January 1, 2001.

It’s a weird debate and both sides can technically claim they are correct. By definition, a decade is any period of 10 consecutive years no matter when you start counting. From a societal standpoint, we’ve always refered to decades by the numbers on them so the 80’s ran from the ten year period from 1980 through 1989. So for many, 2010 is the start of a new decade because they started counting in 2000, which is fine.  After all, if we didn’t do it this way then 1980 was actually part of the 70’s which is really lame and would totally mess up all those Best of the decade shows on VH1.

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Responses

  1. A decade is really any 10 year period, regardless of what year it started. The 90’s for example from 1990 to 1999 is the decade of the 90’s. However, on a calendar, 1990 was the last year of a decade.
    10 is an even number, so the number of years divided by 10 has to be even. 2009 divided by 10 would only be 200.9. Think in terms of money (everyone’s favourite) Lay 10 $1 coin on a table. Then lay 10 more beneath that. The 2nd 10 starts from the 11th dollar. Before we had calculators & computers, we at least knew how to count.


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