When is New Years eve in relation to todays question What year numbering system was used in ..."

All todays question does is bring up more questions … Yes, I realize this was a dated question back in 1990 that got answered way back then and is now being resurfaced so to speak, but when was the new year back in the year one (1) and what was the new year before year (1) one?

Cecil says that the Christian system of year numbering was invented in what we now know as AD 525 by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus.

Okay fine so before 525AD when was the new year?

I say it was April 1st and that is where April fool’s day came from, because after 525AD the new year got changed over on January 1st, right?

I ask in faith that someone has the answer to my question, because I was born on March 31st which would’ve been New Years eve as it was before Monk Dionysius got involved … right or wrong?

March 31st, 1 BC, became April 1st, 1 AD. [scratches head] Although I believe Romans only had 30 days in March, you should still get the idea.

The article in question is at (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1372/what-year-numbering-system-was-used-in-the-time-of-christ).

A decade is any ten year period, however a Decade is a specific ten year period. If one says “in the eighth Decade of the eleventh Century”, they mean 1081 to 1090 AD. Please stop looking at me like I’m just making this up as I go.

525 AD in Rome, zero was not considered a number, thus no year “0”. We had to wait for the Muslims to invent zero as a number, blame them.

Ummm … Uncle Cecil … was Jesus’ birth certificate issued by the State of Hawaii by any chance?

The Romans used March 1 (not April 1) as the start of the year. That’s why our month September is the 7th month (counting from March 1), October is the eighth month, etc. For the early Christians, March marked the Annunciation (revelation to Mary that she was going to have an Important Baby) and so marked the new year. To most ancient cultures, March was spring and so marked the new year (the calendar of ancient Israel for the reign of kings basically started from the spring-equinox month, although there were other reckonings of the year for other purposes.) And so on.

It was not unusual to have different start of year for different purposes. Tax year, harvest year, religious year, etc.

My recollection is that it didn’t become unified as January 1 until the move from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar (late 1700s, varying a bit by country.)

I guess A.U.C. is the correct answer to the question as stated, but note that most Romans didn’t use it. Instead, they said, “The year when N. and N. were consuls.” A.U.C. was used in footnotes and in learned treatises about chronology. Other serial-number eras were used in other parts of the Christian world, such as the Seleucid Era (starting in 311 BC) and various attempts to date starting from Adam and Eve (which eventually produced the modern Jewish era).

The Indiction was a tax cycle. Imagine that you only had to pay certain major taxes once every 15 years—obviously, it was a good idea to know where you were in the cycle.

Note that the UK still uses, as a secondary calendar, “In the nth year of the reign of … Queen Elizabeth II,” and US still uses “In the nth year of the Independence of these United States.”

Yes, in the British Empire, New Year’s Day was not permanently changed to January 1 until October of 1752. I recently read a defective novel, in fact, turning on February, 1753 having been only one year after February, 1751.

I’ll buy that Mr Haven … however now you have the problem of when did New Years eve get invented?

If March 1st is the first year for year one then February 28th or 29th now becomes New Years eve and did not take place according to the modern calendar till after March 1st 1AD making February 28th or 29th as the New Years eve of 1AD with the resulting March 1st being year 2AD …

that’s why I think the New Year started April 1st with March 31st being the first New Years eve of year 1AD resulting in April 1st (the next day) becoming year 2AD.

April Fool came as a result of changing the beginning of the year to January 1st, but when that happened is still unclear.

Watchword: Sorry, you’re making it up. 1081 to 1090 is the ninth, not eighth, decade of the eleventh (note: correctly given, not tenth) century.

First my two cents about when the decade/century started.

You can pick any friggin’ day you want because no one counted the years from Year 1 until over 500 years after the fact. If you insist that the counting of the decades and centuries are tightly intertwined with the birth of Jesus, then the 21st century should have started in 1997 because Jesus’ birth is now thought by most scholars to have taken place in 4 BCE.

By the way, Scholars calculate Jesus’ birth at 4 BCE is because King Herod, according to Mathews, was involved in the slaying of the innocent which occurred at the time of Jesus’ birth. However, Herod inconveniently died in 4 BCE. You either have to admit the New Testament might have …uh… stretched the truth a bit, or maybe Dionysius simply miscalculated the date of the birth by a few years.

And, now for Mr. Quatro’s query about the new year…

The Romans switched from March as the first day of the year to January sometime around 150 BCE. (The year 153 BCE was the year 600 in the Roman calendar, so that might have been a reason for the change.) Consuls were elected at the beginning of the year, so changing the day the year began would change the date the Consuls were elected. The current calendar came from the reforms of Julius Caesar in 45 BCE. He lengthened the months to their current length, and replaced the leap month that occurred in the middle of February with a leap day that was also put in the middle of February (February 24th).

January is named after Janus, the god of transitions and beginnings. He was a god with two faces, one looking forward and one looking backward. That’s pretty much shows that the Romans considered January as the beginning of the year way before Christianity came about.

April Fools day probably came about from the Roman celebration of Hilaria which took place on March 25th. (The word “hilarity” comes from Hilaria). This was a joyous festival celebrating the spring, and what better way to experience joy than making a prank at the expense of another person?

The tradition of Hilaria continued in the Christian era as the Feast of Annunciation which also was on March 25th. In many places, this feast was considered the beginning of the religious New Year. In fact, Dionysius Exiguus himself declared March 25th the beginning of the New Year. However, the legal New Year was still January 1st. In many places, you’ll see dates between January and March 25th marked with both years such as “1023/24”. The use of March 25th as the beginning of the religious New Year continued until the 18th century in many places.

So, January 1st was the legal New Year since the time of the Roman Republic, but March 25th was also considered a religious new year too. April 1st never was considered the beginning of the new year in either way.

By the way, having multiple new years is not unusual. In Judaism, the first month of the calendar is Nisan which is the month Passover falls in. Thus, 1 Nisan is new years day and marks the birth of the Jewish nation. However the year is numbered from Tishrei which is the month Rosh Hashanah occurs in. Thus, 1 Tishrei is also a new years day and marks the birth of creation.

Thank you qazwart … that takes care of a lot of questions and is certainly worth more than 2 cents.

I guess my grandfather pulled a funny one on me and said that April 1st use to be the New Year. I never could find where April Fools came from anyway.

Now I know it didn’t have anything to do with the changing of the year I thought the January date was set by the Romans, but I didn’t know it was 150BCE.

That needs more research than I am willing to do at the moment. My guess would be that it dates back to the Jewish calendar, where the day is measured from sunset to sunset (unlike our calendar that measures from midnight to midnight.) Thus, the night before a holiday is the celebration, since the holiday starts at sunset (if you follow me.) Hence, we’ve got Christmas Eve as a celebratory night, and similarly New Year’s Eve. But that’s just my vaguely educated guess.

As to how our current form of celebration evolved (is that what you’re asking?), I dunno, but I guess it’s pretty modern (since it requires reasonably accurate clocks.) Dropping the ball at Times Square, f’rinstance, started in the early 1900s.

“The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon” from the History Channel (http://www.history.com/topics/new-years).

Was there a smooth transition between 12/31/1 BCE and 1/1/1 AD? Or was there the intervening year 1/1/0 - 12/31/0 (BCE/AD)? Or worse… 1/1/0 -12/31/0 BCE followed by 1/1/0 - 12/31/0 AD? Wikipedia mentions Year 0 in relation to what I assume are certain events having occurred in Astronomy, but I simply couldn’t fathom the details.

My ignorance is the least blissful. The Straight Dope is needed here.

Yes, though they weren’t called that at the time. In the BC/AD system, there is no year 0.

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomical_year_numbering, Year 1 BCE is Year 0, then follows de-incrementally by -1 year. Johannes Kepler, Philippe de la Hire, and Jacque Cassini all created a Year 0 in their respective calculations.

While I respect your response with regard to the BCE/AD system (which I appreciate), there is obviously a secondary astronomical dating system which is thus unaccounted for in this discussion.

Please elaborate.

That is true, but only astronomers ever use it; historians never do.

Actually, there really was a bit of confusion going on at the time of the BC/AD transition. When Julius Caesar had introduced his new system, due to a difference in idiom between Latin and Greek, “every fourth year” had been misunderstood as “every third year”, and there had been too many leap years for a while, until the mistake was caught and corrected by having no leap years at all until things were back in place.

It might be added that, when the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, things were reset not to how they had been in Julius Caesar’s time, but to AD 325, because it was at the Council of Nicea, held in that year, that the official rules for the date of Easter had been set.

There was no transition because we didn’t know of the event until five centuries after the fact.

There is no “year zero”. The calendar goes from 1 BC to 1 AD. This really messes up calculations but the zero hadn’t come to Europe at that time the calendar was set.

Reminds me of a riddle my teacher told us in elementary school. A pot is missing from the museum and two people show up claiming the reward.

One says my pot was made in 70 AD. It has the date on the bottom.

The other says my pot is older! It say it was made in 70 BC on the bottom!

The answer is that the pot that claimed it was made in 70 BC was bogus because they didn’t know it was BC!

I remember because I got into trouble for saying that if the pot was stolen from the museum, they would certainly have a description of it, and you couldn’t tell by the date. After all, the other too could be a fake with a valid date on it.

I complained to my sister who explained that the year count wasn’t established until 500 years later, so they both were fakes. Unfortunately, my teacher was even more upset with me when I explained that to her the next day why she was wrong and both pots were faked.

What I learned in elementary school: Keep your mouth shut and your head down. This too will pass.

Sorry, it SEEMS like you ARE making things up as you go. That statement implies that the First Decade of the eleventh Century ran from 1011 to 1020. And leave us wondering which Decade of the eleventh Century they were in during the years 1001 - 1010.

Not so. Positional notation and the digit zero hadn’t come to Europe, but Europeans were not such airheads as not to understand what two minus two is. The problem is that year numbers were conceived of as ordinals, not as cardinals, so that A.D. 1 is the first year of the A.D. era, A.D. 2 is the second, and so forth, and 1 B.C. is the first year before Christ’s (notional) birth, 2 B.C. is the second, and so forth.

The Europeans may have known the concept of nothing. (If I had 10 sheep and the huns took away 10 sheep, I have no sheep). However, does that necessarily mean they understood zero as a mathematical concept?

The Europeans didn’t use negative numbers until the 17th century when Fibonacci showed how they could be used for accounting. (Fibonacci also championed the use of Arabic numeral). Before that, they were controversial. Even mathematicians debated the use of them. Francis Maseres a mathematician and member of the royal society decried the use of negative in the 18th century. (He also despised calculus, so he wasn’t all bad).

After all, having a negative something doesn’t really exist in the world. I have no sheep in my flock, and I owe my neighbor three sheep. However, I don’t have negative three sheep. I just don’t have any sheep.

Without the concept of negative numbers, the concept of zero as a number and not merely as a lack of stuff may not have made much sense. I’m sure if someone ask how many years ago was 12 BC from 14AD, the 5th century Europeans would arrive at the correct answer. (Who cares right now? We’re being attacked by Visgoths!). However, I wonder if a Year zero would have been included if they were more mathematically astute.

I wonder how Muslims label years before Hijra. Of course, they set up their calendar was before they conquered India and were introduced to the zero by the Hindus.

Us Jews took the simple route and simply number our years from the beginning of time, 5,774 years ago. No need for negative numbers! Nothing happened before that. Nope nothing at all. Dinosaurs? I don’t see any dinosaurs.

Not only was the number zero known, it was specifically known to Dionysius Exiguus.