I recant my previous post. The second decade of the 21st century HAS begun. Some people wrote to me and argued that numbers start with zero, so the 21st century had to start with 2000, and, thus, the 2nd decade of the century starts with 2010. Though their logic is incredible, it did not convince me.
Instead, I recant my previous post based on what I read in the Book of Outis, which precedes Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament Bible. Outis was the zeroth apostle and this is the gospel according to him:
0: Joseph approached the front desk of the Inn and spoke unto the manager, whose name plate identified him as “Thomas.”
1: “Thomas, my friend, er, wife, um, Mary, just now gave birth in your manger. The conditions there are not exactly ideal. Are you sure there are no actual rooms in this inn?”
2: The manager held out his hand and instructed Joseph, “Observe the vacancy sign, which is unlit.”
3: “Yes, well, what if three wise kings were to arrive from the East. Would you have a room for them?”
4: “Of course, I would give unto them our finest room: room zero, with three king size beds.”
5: “Ah. Sorry to tell you, Thomas, the kings are not coming. Okay, actually they are coming; but it will take nearly two weeks of wandering from afar. So may we have their room until then? After all, the baby IS the son of God.”
6: “Yes, so you told me last night. I have been in the inn business since 30 BC and have heard many stories,” Thomas said, doubtfully.
7: The manager turned aside Joseph’s plea. “Your little family seems quite comfortable in the manger. The cattle are lowing and it soothes the baby. See? No crying he makes.”
8: Joseph made to strike the manager but God restrained his hand. Joseph relented and turned to go back to the manger.
9: The manager called out to Joseph, “Wait. There is the matter of your bill. You need to give me 12 shekels in advance for the zeroth week.”
10: Joseph reached into the pocket of his robe and pulled out his checkbook. He wrote out the amount and signed it. “What is the date?” he inquired.
11: The manager consulted the calendar and exclaimed, “Well, what do you know! Yesterday was the last day of zero BC. Today is the initial day of a new century in the new era: AD."
12: Joseph inscribed upon the check, “01/01/01”.
13: The manager muttered to himself, “Foreigners!” Then he spoke unto Joseph, “Sir, today is day zero of zeroth month of zero AD. Please write ‘00/00/00’ on your check.”
14: And Joseph did as he was bidden and went out of the lobby.
So there you have it. The first century started with year 0 and therefore ended with year 99.
(Nativity painting from Jennifer Smith)