The Real Millennium?
Even Arthur C. Clarke, the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, warned that the Western calendar begins with the year 1 and "the next century and millennium do not begin until Jan. 1, 2001. I don't understand why people can't grasp this."
Yet most celebrated this past Jan. 1. The hype was huge. Some packed Times Square, others stayed in worried about terrorism, blackouts, revelers gone wild, or worse, the end of the world. Major celebrations in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and even New York City were canceled due to low ticket sales. Movies at the end of 1999 had these titles: Bringing Out the Dead, End of Days, Stigmata, Lost Souls and The Omega Code.
Millennium cults formed - some leading members quit their jobs to wait for the end of time. The Millennium Watch Institute listed more than 1,200 millennium cults in its database in 1999.
Turns out it was all for nought.
Millennium sticklers say just do the math.
In the Gregorian calendar, used by most of the Christian world, there is no year zero. "(So) the first year of the calendar ends at the end of the year 1 AD. Since 2000 AD is the 2,000th year of the Christian calendar, it will be the last year of the second millennium, (and) the 21st Century will begin on Jan. 1, 2001," according to the Royal Greenwich Observatory web site.
But that's only the Gregorian calendar.
Forty other calendars are also in use throughout the world such as Byzantine, Chinese, Indian (Saka), Islamic (Hegira) and Jewish (A.M.) calendars. The date on which the year changes is different for each calendar so the millennium's actual date is disputed or agreed upon according to which calendar a person follows.
Mathematicians and scientists count 0 as a legitimate number and believe 2000 was the real deal.
So what can we expect at 11:59 p.m. Sunday?
Expect cities that canceled parties last year to make up for the loss. Las Vegas will explode $500,000 of fireworks in 10 minutes right before 2001. Upwards of 100,000 people are scheduled to show for New Year's Eve shindigs in Los Angeles and Denver after disappointing turnouts last year.
One thing is for certain - no one will worry about the Y2K Millennium bug.
"The Y2K bug should be a dead issue this year," because no major calamities occurred last year when most modern computer clocks rolled over to double zeros for 2000, said Mel Lanckton, a computer technician with Cape Fear Computer Center, 4951 University Drive.
Millennium terrorist threats were certainly real last year. Several people tied to Osama bin Laden were arrested in Seattle, Canada and Jordan for planning millennium terrorist attacks.
"I don't have any indication that a main terrorist group will mark the new millennium by a terrorist act," said Beth Renwick , chief analysis officer with Crisis Management Worldwide - a virtual terrorist tracking company based in Wilmington. "It's highly unlikely, but since millennium terrorist protests were unsuccessful last year, those groups might try again."
We also heard much from religious groups as last year turned over. Religion, after all, is the basis of the Gregorian calendar, which resulted from a perceived need to regulate the cycle of Christian holidays, especially that of Easter, said P. Kenneth Seidelmann, in Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac.
Two apocalyptic theories arise around the time of the millennium: religious, where God destroys Satan and sinners and resurrects the virtuous; and secular, where good triumphs over evil because of natural or historical forces.
"To Jehovah's Witnesses, the 1,000-year reign of Christ is our issue because it's soon, and no man will know the day or the hour," said Robert Thomas, presiding overseer for Jehovah's Witnesses Leland Congregation. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the millennium probably began in Oct. 1999 - 2,000 years since when they believe Jesus was born.
People of the Baha'I Faith , at 15 N. 8th St., believe in a moral, instead of a physical, return of Christ.
The religion promotes the oneness of God, man and religion.
"Morals are decaying in society at this point. People have lost their fear of God so we I think the time for it to come is now," said Richard Hamrick, 18, a Baha'I youth. "We feel that a lot of the teachings in the gospel were more spiritual than physical so his return will be a spiritual return and uprising of people coming together."
But interpreting a religious outcome in the new millennium is difficult at best.
Critt Jarvis, a Wilmington computer specialist, quit his job at Vision Software last year to help solve possible Y2K computer conflicts. He no longer expects computer glitches but a social upheaval in 2001.
"It'll all come down to issues of the heart in the beginning stages of this millennium," he said. "The election process this year has proven that people can work together to solve some of the social problems in this country."
"The new millennium will get us back to the basics of what our society is supposed to be all about - a cohesive vision of democracy and freedom."
©Copyright 2000, Morning Star - Wilmington, N.C.