How old are you (in European years)?

A friend of a friend of a friend says that in European circles babies are 1yrs old at birth, 2 at year one and so forth. I thought this so much piffle until I reflected that the Latins did adjust the calendar to year one at Christ’s birth (the cause of all this millenial brouhaha). Any Euro’s out there to confirm?

It’s not that you add a year it’s that you round to the nearest year. So if a baby is 11 months old, it’s called a 1 year old.

Which makes more sense if you ask me.

If you want to translate to Americanspeak I’ve heard people ask “How many years have you finished?”

Ya know, registered horses are considered to be 1 year old on January 1, no matter when they were born during the preceding year.

Maybe someone is confusing people with horses - well, at least the rear half of one.

I have as much authority as the Pope; I just don’t have as many people who believe it! - George Carlin

Actually, if I am not mistaken, by the Chinese system of age reckoning,

a) All babies have the age of 1 as soon as they are born, presumably because it is the first year they were present for.

b) Nobody celebrates the anniversary of their birth. The figurative odometer turns over on the same day for everyone, New Years Day, I think.

c) There are “long years” and “short years”.

This means that if a baby is born the day before the Chinese New Year, and the next year is a short one, this child will be age three, before he or she has even been around for a whole year.

This is how they used to do it in China, anyway. I don’t know if they do it that way anymore.

In dog years I’m only 6!

The confusion about A.D. 1 comes about because we’re not talking about Christ’s age, but what year he’s in – A.D. 1 was the first year of the Lord: the first year of his life. When a child is less than a year old he is in his first year. So the A.D. numbers are a year out of sync with the usual (American) birthday usage. 2000 years later we’re all celebrating the new millenium a year early.

“Finally, consider Kottke’s voice which sounds like geese farts on a muggy day.”
Leo Kottke
6- And 12-String Guitar

What we Westerners are doing, although most people wouldn’t think of it that way, is counting from zero. I.e., a newborn is zero years old, an eleven month old child still has not completed a full year, etc.

I can see that this would not be the way people would intuitively count who weren’t familiar with the concept of zero, that radical Arabic (or was it Indian?) innovation of the Middle ages.

I for one, since getting into computers, now feel like counting from zero makes more logical sense than starting with one. It somehow seems wrong now to have, say, one hundred pages go from 1 to 100, instead of 0-99.

No. . .since I’m not celebrating it at all.

And only programmers should be conceived from Square Zero.


Lumpy: But Europeans DO start from 0. It’s just that they round to the nearest year. If a kid is 3 yrs old then it’s the same for Americans & Europeans. But if it’s 3 yrs and 7 months old than Europeans say it’s 4 yrs old.

You guys are off on some weird freakin’ trip. I have never heard of anybody in Europe counting their children’s ages based on time of conception rather than time of birth of counting their kids as one year old at birth.

Like Lawrence, I have never heard of Europeans counting their years in this strange manner mentioned here. European babies start with zero years, they get a huge party on their first year anniversary out of the womb, and so on.

When I was 17 (by this sensible way of reckoning) I did have someone tell me that I was actually 18 because I had completed 17 years and was working on my 18th year, but this still sounds like fuzzy thinking to this day.

I wouldn’t even say we Europeans (or at least, Germans) round to the nearest full years. When my son was 2 years and 7 months old, I said he was “two and a half”. Now he’s 2 years and 11 months, and I say he’s “almost three”. When detail is not important, I may say “he’s three” for simplicity, but I wouldn’t have said that 4 months ago, because that’s one heck of a rounding error at that age.

When I was 17 years and 11 months, I was considered “seventeen” and not allowed to rent adult movies, period.

I’ve heard this custom also attributed to India.

What we have here is a confusion between cardinal and ordinal numbers. I was born in 1960. I can count (cardinal numbers) 39 years completed. But I am in (ordinal numbers) my 40th year.

This is the same confusion with years. Without getting into various issues of when He was really born, Jesus is 1,998 years old (by standard reckoning), but is in his 1,999th year.

I still intend to celebrate the Millennium in 3 months. That’s just the kind of guy I am…

I’m with The Incredible Holg. Here in England whenever a proud parent shows me baby photos, they say ‘he’s nearly one year old’ or ‘she’s two and a half’.

I once asked my class of 11 year old how old they thought I was. The answers ranged from 45 - 89, with an average in the high 50’s. (I was 35!)

glee, what were you thinking?

Never let someone guess your age. They will either guess too high, which bums you out for the rest of the day (or week, or year), or guess too low and you’ll think they were trying not to hurt your feelings and you wonder how old they really thought you were.

Reminds me of the old joke – “You look like a million bucks! All green and wrinkled!”

“If you had manifested fatigue upon noticing that you had been an ass, that would have been logical, that would have been rational; whereas it seems to me that to manifest surprise was to be again an ass.”
Mark Twain
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

I think the “European” is not the correct group, only Spanish speaking people, in various parts of the world.They are 1 at birth.

NT grrl, where’d you hear that? Yesterday in my Chinese class, my teacher (who BTW grew up in China and still considers herself Chinese) explained birthdays to us.

Basically- you celebrate several intervals up to the first year. After the first year, it’s only really celebrated every 10 years.

Nothing with long years or short years. Recently, the yearly birthday trend came o China with other American ideas, but traditionally, that’s how it worked.


Gotta citation, sunbear?


“Listen Children Eternal Father Eternally One!” Exceptions? None!
-Doc Bronner

I am reminded of an anecdote often told about one of the pioneers of computer science. (I have forgotten who the subject supposedly is, but it’s a good story anyway.)

This scientist and his wife were returning from vacation, and they’d arrived at their home airport. His wife said to him, “I’m going to call a cab, so please stay here and keep an eye on our ten suitcases.”

When she got back, the scientist exclaimed irritably, “The airline lost one of our bags. There are only nine here.” She saw all the suitcases still there, and told him he must be mistaken. But he still insisted that one was missing. “Look,” he said, “just count them: zero, one, two…”

Laugh hard; it’s a long way to the bank.

The India thing is true, at least for my parents. They round up about three months, at the most…unless I’m being berated for not being responsible. Then, I generally gain a year…“You’re eighteen. Act your age…”

Okay, I can’t resist – two more age jokes:

  1. Doctor to man: “You’re in excellent health for a 60-year-old. Too bad you’re only 25!”

  2. Wife is fishing for compliments: “Do you see any wrinkles on me?” Absent-minded husband says: “Oh, you still have the skin of a sixteen-year-old peach.”