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What are Dates in Ruby?

If you're learning programming, you might have come across the term "Dates" and wondered what they are and how they work in the context of programming. In this blog post, we will explore Dates in Ruby, a popular programming language, and learn how to work with them effectively.

Introduction to Dates

In everyday life, we use dates to keep track of days, months, and years. In programming, we often need to work with dates too, such as keeping track of when a user has created an account, when a blog post was published, or when a product was last updated.

In Ruby, we have a built-in class, Date, which provides us with several methods and attributes to work with dates easily. To use the Date class, you first need to include it in your Ruby script or application by adding the following line to your code:

require 'date'

Once you've added this line, you can start working with dates in your Ruby code.

Creating Date Objects

To create a new date object, you can use the method, which takes three arguments: year, month, and day. For example, let's create a date object for the 4th of July, 2021:

date =, 7, 4)
puts date #=> 2021-07-04

You can also create a date object for the current date by using the method:

today =
puts today #=> 2021-10-12 (or the current date when you run the code)

Accessing Date Attributes

Once you have a date object, you can access its attributes, such as year, month, and day, using the appropriate methods. Here's an example:

date =, 7, 4)

year = date.year
month = date.month
day =

puts "Year: #{year}, Month: #{month}, Day: #{day}" #=> Year: 2021, Month: 7, Day: 4

Working with Dates

Now that we know how to create date objects and access their attributes, let's look at some common operations we might want to perform with dates.

Comparing Dates

You can compare two date objects using the standard comparison operators (<, <=, >, >=, ==, !=). For example:

date1 =, 7, 4)
date2 =, 10, 12)

puts date1 < date2 #=> true
puts date1 == date2 #=> false

Adding and Subtracting Dates

You can add or subtract a number of days, months, or years to/from a date using the + and - operators. For example, let's add 30 days to a date:

date =, 7, 4)
new_date = date + 30

puts new_date #=> 2021-08-03

Similarly, you can subtract a number of days, months, or years from a date:

date =, 7, 4)
new_date = date - 15

puts new_date #=> 2021-06-19

Calculating the Difference Between Dates

To find the difference between two dates, you can subtract the earlier date from the later date. The result will be the number of days between the two dates. For example:

date1 =, 7, 4)
date2 =, 10, 12)

difference_in_days = (date2 - date1).to_i

puts "There are #{difference_in_days} days between #{date1} and #{date2}." #=> There are 100 days between 2021-07-04 and 2021-10-12.

Formatting Dates

Often, we want to display dates in a specific format. The Date class provides a strftime method, which allows us to format date objects as strings using various format codes. Here are some common format codes:

  • %Y: Year with century (e.g., 2021)
  • %m: Month of the year, zero-padded (01..12)
  • %d: Day of the month, zero-padded (01..31)
  • %B: Full month name (e.g., January, February)
  • %b or %h: Abbreviated month name (e.g., Jan, Feb)
  • %A: Full weekday name (e.g., Sunday, Monday)
  • %a: Abbreviated weekday name (e.g., Sun, Mon)

Here's an example of formatting a date using the strftime method:

date =, 7, 4)

formatted_date = date.strftime("%A, %B %d, %Y")
puts formatted_date #=> Sunday, July 04, 2021

You can find a full list of format codes in the Ruby documentation.

Parsing Dates

Sometimes, we need to convert a date in string format to a Date object. The Date class provides a parse method, which can parse a string containing a date and return a date object:

date_string = "2021-07-04"
date = Date.parse(date_string)

puts date #=> 2021-07-04

However, it's important to note that the parse method may not work correctly for all date formats. In such cases, you can use the strptime method, which allows you to specify the format of the input string:

date_string = "04-07-2021"
format = "%d-%m-%Y"

date = Date.strptime(date_string, format)

puts date #=> 2021-07-04


In this blog post, we have discussed what dates are in Ruby, how to create and manipulate date objects, and how to format and parse dates. The Date class in Ruby provides a powerful set of tools to work with dates in your applications, making it easy to perform common date-related tasks.

As you continue learning programming, you'll find that working with dates is a common requirement in many applications. By mastering the concepts covered in this post, you'll be well-prepared to handle date-related tasks in your Ruby projects.