What are you doing on New Year's Eve? This annual question evokes numerous responses: partying, dining out, dancing, or just staying home. But a year from now will be the last New Year's Eve of the millennium. Shouldn't you and I be doing something really special on this eve of the eve of the new millennium?
Take time before you answer the question, and consider this: the millennium won't really start for another two years. January 1, 2001, is the officially recognized date for the beginning of the millennium. The Greenwich Observatory, the United States Naval Observatory, the World Almanac, and Encyclopedia Britannica all agree that 2001 is the date for the inauguration of the new millennium.
To further confuse our celebration plans, most scholars believe that we are already into the new millennium by a couple of years. The reason for this belief is that our calendar was determined by the birth of Christ. The early church didn't use a calendar based upon Christ's birth until the 6th century. Dennis the Diminutive, a Scythian monk, tried to date the birth of Christ using the Roman calendar. After years of monkish concentration, he determined that Christ was born on December 25th in the year 753 after the founding of Rome. The Bible claims that Christ was born during the reign of Herod the Great, and he died in Roman year 750. Therefore, Dennis the Diminutive made a mistake of three or four years when he dated Christ's birth. As strange as it may seem, Christ was born 3 or 4 BC.
Another problem with this dating question is the politically incorrect assumption that the Christian calendar should universally be the basis for dating everything in history worldwide. Surely, many non-Christians see this as arbitrary at best. The Hebrew calendar in the year AD 2000 will be the year 5760. The Chinese will be celebrating year 4698. The Muslim world will be observing 1377. Next year's millennium will affect only those using the Christian calendar.
If all this doesn't throw a wrench into the timing question, millennium-madness has further confused the matter. Assuming, incorrectly, that the millennium is twelve months away, some feel that we will soon face the onslaught of dire and alarming problems. These apocalyptic predictions about life twelve months hence would make anyone to think again about wanting to celebrate.
Some think that the Y2K computer problem will cause massive chaos. The fear is that computers around the world will experience a chronological crash producing worldwide crisis. Pessimists predict the meltdown of banking throughout the world and suggest taking all our money out of checking and savings accounts. In addition to that, they advise doing the same with retirement funds, stocks, bonds, and other securities. Further, many fear that the delivery of services like water, gas, and electricity will be interrupted by the Y2K problem. If that weren't enough, some military analysts worry about loss of control over missile systems; thus setting into motion the possibility of inadvertent launches of nuclear missiles. You can imagine what would happen if some Russian missiles were launched toward us.
Millennium madness gets much steam from some religious leaders who predict the world will face Armageddon as we enter the third millennium. Visions of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse race about in their heads.
While I am not overly concerned about any of these alarming predictions, millennium frenzy can be used by each of us to take stock of our lives. We have a year to prepare for the accepted beginning of a new epoch. This is an excellent time to think about the future. I seriously doubt whether the end of the world is near; however, my guess is that our end will come before the eschaton arrives for the rest of the world. Heart attack, cancer, or stroke will end many of our lives long before the cataclysmic battle with the antichrist. Therefore, we should all resolve to live healthier lives this coming New Year by exercising, reducing stress, and eating sensibly.
In addition, while watching the parades and football games tomorrow, write down how you plan to enjoy the New Year, which contains for each of us a very precious and non-renewable resource-life. If you do, you will have a Happy New Year, and you will be prepared for whatever the new millennium will bring in 365 more days.