Have you ever given any thought to how you write the date? 365 (or 366) days, broken out into 12 months, of 28, 29, 3o, or 31 days, all sequentially counted in groups called years.
Now, the months themselves may be spelled out, so that this month is written as “June” or as its number in the monthly sequence (06). In this computer age, even four-letter months are also sometimes abbreviated by the first three characters (“JUN” or “JUL”).
Here in the U.S., we write the month first, followed by the date. (June 9), and if specifying the year, they are separated by a comma (June 9, 2008). Some other countries, though, prefer to put the day first (9 June) which conveniently makes that comma no longer necessary (9 June 2008 or even sometimes 9th June 2008). I admit that, American though I am, I often prefer to write the date that way.
Years, of course, are counted these days in what is known as the “Common Era,” formerly known as “Anno Domini.” The calendar most of us work with is the Gregorian calendar, and started with year number 1 at (supposedly) the birth of Jesus Christ. Other nations, other cultures, have their own calendars, of course, and many of them prefer not to be saddled with such a “Christian” dating system, yet with the world getting smaller and the Internet getting bigger, we needed a non-offensive alternative, and so the “A.D.” was switched to “C.E.”
We are also, of course, in the 21st century, even though our year starts with “20” and not “21.” (The “first” century, of course, was years 1-100. The second century was 101-200, and so on. There was never a year “zero.” This is why, incidentally, that the 21st century did not start in 2000, but not until 2001, but that’s an old argument.) We had gotten into the habit for years or writing the dates just by the last two digits (“98” for “1998”, for example) but the shock of switching into a brand new century threw us off, so that about half the time, we’re still writing the 4-digit year rather than just 2-digits, just to remind ourselves of where, exactly, we are in this space/time continuum.
Now, why bring all of this up today? Because a couple days ago, on Saturday, if you write dates as we do here in the U.S., it was June 7th, 2008 and for a brief moment, 06/07/08 9:10. How cool is that, huh?
For those of you using the British way of writing dates, though? You get another chance at it next month, on 6 July 2008.