BBY and ABY stand for “Before the Battle of Yavin” and “After the Battle of Yavin” respectively and use the eponymous battle described in A new hope, in which the Rebel Alliance destroys the Empire’s first Death Star, as its year zero. This notation first appeared in Bill Slavicsek’s second edition A guide to the Star Wars universe, which was released before George Lucas began work on the prequel trilogy. Against this background, it made sense to use the first film in the franchise as a point of reference.
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Several other calendar epochs existed before the BBY / ABY format and more have been introduced since. Timothy zahn’s La trilogie Thrawn, published just before Slavicsek Guide, used the Battle of Endor as a year zero event. Recently, Disney attempted to design a BSI / ASI format with reference to the Starkiller incident in the force awakens. However, neither has been widely accepted in the Star wars community, because popular sites like Wookieepedia continue to use BBY / ABY.
Although it is now standardized and generally understood by most fans, the more the Star wars The universe grows, the less significant the Battle of Yavin becomes in hindsight. Although Yavin was a major victory for the rebellion, the Battle of Endor, which takes place in 4 ABY, is much more significant as it represents the beginning of the end of the Empire. In 5 ABY, the Battle of Jakku became the last major conflict in the Galactic Civil War and ushered in the era of the New Republic. Either of those years would be a more appropriate time for a new galactic government to structure its calendars.
Yet it seems impractical to date events by relatively arbitrary political successes such as battles or regime changes. After all, real-world countries typically don’t reset their calendar times after gaining independence. After the French Revolution, France attempted to create the French Republican calendar, but it was unsuccessful and was quickly suppressed. And although some modern cultures have their own calendar epochs, they have also widely adopted the standard BCE / CE system to facilitate communication with others. This type of standardization would certainly be even more important on a galaxy scale. Star wars universe.
There are a number of more symbolic and time-tested dates that could be used by the franchise. The Old Republic was formed in 25,000 BBY and represents the formation of the first galaxy-wide canon civilization. After the fall of the Old Republic and a dark century, the new Galactic Republic was formed in 1032 BBY. In such a calendar system, for example, the Battle of Endor would take place in something like 1036 AGR, or “After the Galactic Republic”.
There is an argument to be made that the BBY / ABY system is primarily used by fans to keep track of history, and is not explicitly referenced in any of the Star wars‘movies or shows. Therefore, it is more convenient to use a date that is roughly in the middle of the events that the franchise primarily focuses on. On the other hand, Disney has indicated that it wants to expand the scope of the franchise’s stories, with the upcoming show. The Acolyte would have taken place during the High Republic era, which lasted between 300 BBY and 82 BBY.
If more media explore the time before The phantom menace and further into the post-futureRise of Skywalker, the BBY / ABY format can become cumbersome and unwieldy. This would only further emphasize that the Battle of Yavin is a fairly random point of reference in the Star wars universe chosen decades ago, before a significant amount of worldbuilding was done by many writers, including Lucas himself.
There are also other options for signifying periods of time within the franchise, such as era names, using the titles introduced in the High Republic initiative, a tactic similar to that used by JRR Tolkien to The Lord of the Rings. For example, a year could be designated as High Republic 125 or Reign of Empire 14 and so on. This would be a more efficient way to identify years without choosing a specific zero year or asking the audience to remember the four-digit year numbers.
Choosing to center the epochs of the calendar around a date like the formation of the Galactic Republic or some other larger event would present its own challenges, but at least that would be a decision driven by the internal logic of the history of the Star wars universe. Whichever method ends up gaining popularity, it is certainly high time to take a second look at the BBY / ABY calendar era format and think about how to adjust it to make more sense for it. future of the series.
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