5 Best Ways to Find the First Date of a Given Year Using Python

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: When working with dates in Python, you may need to find the first date of a given year. This can be vital for calculations around year commencements, financial reporting, or simply organizing yearly data. If you have a year, say 2022, the goal is to output January 1st of 2022 in a date format that Python can recognize, like datetime.date(2022, 1, 1).

Method 1: Using the datetime module

This method involves Python’s built-in datetime module, which provides classes for manipulating dates and times. To find the first date of a given year, you simply create a date object with the year and the first month and day explicitly set to 1.

Here’s an example:

import datetime

def first_date_of_year(year):
    return datetime.date(year, 1, 1)


Output: 2022-01-01

The code defines a function first_date_of_year() that takes a year as input and returns a datetime.date object representing January 1st of that year. It’s straightforward and uses the capabilities of the datetime module directly.

Method 2: Using datetime with timedelta

Another approach is to leverage the timedelta object from the datetime module. You can calculate the first day of the year by subtracting the number of days in the previous year from January 1st of the current year.

Here’s an example:

from datetime import datetime, timedelta

def first_date_of_previous_year(year):
    new_year_date = datetime(year, 1, 1)
    first_day = new_year_date - timedelta(days=1)
    return first_day.replace(month=1, day=1)


Output: 2023-01-01

This snippet first creates a datetime.datetime object for January 1st of the selected year. It then subtracts a single day to reach the previous year and resets the month and day to January 1st. This method is a bit indirect but useful if you’re performing other date manipulations.

Method 3: Using string formatting and strptime

This technique harnesses the power of string formatting and the strptime method from the datetime module to parse a string representation of the first date of a year into a datetime object.

Here’s an example:

from datetime import datetime

def first_date_of_year(year):
    date_string = f"{year}-01-01"
    return datetime.strptime(date_string, "%Y-%m-%d")


Output: 2022-01-01 00:00:00

Here, we format a string to represent the first of January of the given year and then parse it back into a datetime object using strptime. It’s useful for cases where date input might be string-based.

Method 4: Using datetime module in a Functional Programming Style

In this approach, you apply a functional programming style, utilizing lambda functions to immediately return a datetime object for the first date of a specified year.

Here’s an example:

from datetime import date

first_date_of_year = lambda year: date(year, 1, 1)

Output: 2022-01-01

The code uses a lambda function to compress the logic into a single line. The resulting function can take a year and returns the corresponding January 1st date. It’s concise and pythonic but might be less clear to those unfamiliar with lambda functions.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Using List Comprehension

For a more unconventional but concise approach, you can use list comprehension to generate a list of dates for the first day of the year over a range of years.

Here’s an example:

from datetime import date

years = [2020, 2021, 2022, 2023]
first_dates = [date(year, 1, 1) for year in years]

Output: [datetime.date(2020, 1, 1), datetime.date(2021, 1, 1), datetime.date(2022, 1, 1), datetime.date(2023, 1, 1)]

This piece of code generates a list of the first dates for a list of given years. It’s particularly useful if you need to work with multiple years at once. However, it deviates from the single-year requirement slightly for the sake of demonstrating list comprehension’s power.


  • Method 1: Using the datetime module. Strengths: Simple and intuitive. Weaknesses: Might be too basic for complex date manipulations.
  • Method 2: Using datetime with timedelta. Strengths: Flexible and can be part of larger date operations. Weaknesses: Somewhat indirect method for getting the date.
  • Method 3: String formatting and strptime. Strengths: Versatility in handling string input. Weaknesses: Involves multiple conversion steps.
  • Method 4: Functional programming style. Strengths: Concise code. Weaknesses: Less readable for those not familiar with lambda.
  • Bonus Method 5: List comprehension. Strengths: Great for dealing with multiple years. Weaknesses: Not a direct answer to the initial problem if only one date is needed.