When does the new decade begin - 2020, or 2021?

Published: Dec. 31, 2019 at 9:09 PM CST
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As the final hours of the decade tick away, one question remains: are we entering a new decade now in 2020, or later in 2021?

That question always seems to come up every time the year on the calendar moves from ending in 9 to ending in 0.

That was the case in 1989. In 1999. 2009. And now, in 2019.

The answer seems to depend on who you ask.

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the agency that maintains the country’s master clock, the new millennium began on Jan. 1, 2001.

Astronomical data also takes a similar course, beginning in 2001, 2011, and this time around, 2021.

But to others, that doesn’t change the fact that as a society we seemingly talk about decades starting with zeros and ending with nines. For instance, the 1990s seemed to last from 1990 until 1999.

In Madison on this New Year’s Eve, people pondered the question as they celebrated.

Marshall, Wis, resident Chase Zimmerman says that “Jan. 1 is the first day of a new year, and the new year is part of the new decade. It should be connected like it's a part of the 10 years."

Varun Devulapalli of Madison fell into the middle of the debate.

"2010 is the beginning of the decade,” he says. “I guess the two at the end makes it another decade. But I mean, if you're being semantically correct, 2021 makes sense. But I think like 2020 is good."

So when does the decade start or end? Perhaps we'll have to leave it up to father time to decide.