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January 5, 1990

The Approach of a New Millennium

JAMA. 1990;263(1):88. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440010086038

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After one brief decade, we enter into a new millennium, whose approach exerts a certain fascination. If nothing else, we face imminent changes in some ingrained habits—it will indeed seem strange to date a letter or a check with the year 2000 (while remembering, of course, that the new millennium will really start only in 2001). However, will a transition from one millennium to another presage more important changes?

The recent past offers some interesting data that on a smaller scale have considerable relevance. For example, the last decade of the 19th century, from about 1890 to 1900, witnessed such a major cultural transformation that it received a special name—the "mauve decade." Quite commonly it was called fin de siècle, "the end of a century," as if that provided an explanation. If we go back another 100 years to the end of the 18th century, we again find intense disturbance.