The New Millennium
For the past few years, the mention of the new millennium has instilled thoughts about our future, feelings about time that has passed, and worry about things yet to come. For some, the coming of the new millennium has great spiritual significance; to others, it will be an event of community and celebration.
Many believe that our third millennium begins just after the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999. Others believe that the third millennium doesn't really begin until exactly one year after that. And then there are many people for whom it is neither the third millennium, nor the much-talked-about Year 2000.
Differences in individual beliefs of tradition and time are not likely to deter the vast majority of people all over the world from commencing once-in-a-lifetime celebrations when the Year 2000 rings in.
What's in a Number?
While much of the world is preparing for the Year 2000, many will regard the new millennium as being of little importance. For example, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, the year 4698 begins on February 5, 2000. For approximately 1.2 billion people, this is 302 years away from the next millennium.
The Jewish calendar is a blend of the lunar and solar year. September 30, 2000 marks the beginning of the year 5760, which means that three-quarters of the year 2000 will actually be the Jewish year 5759.
Muslims date their calendars from the prophet Muhammad's move from Mecca to Medina. The Islamic calendar is based on a lunar year. April 6, 2000 marks the beginning of the year 1420, so part of the year 2000 will actually be the Islamic year 1419.
And yet, for people of many cultures, the Year 2000 has been a beacon signaling the turn of our history. When it has finally arrived, we will need a new signpost to signal to us the coming of the future.