When working with dates, oftentimes, you'd like to know if a given date comes before or after another date. We can get these answers by comparing dates.
In this article, we will learn how to use the Python
datetime module to create and compare both naive (without timezone info) and aware (with timezone info) dates.
To compare the dates, we will use the comparison operators in Python:
<, >, ==, <=, >=, !=.
datetime module has two methods for creating dates object -
datetime.date. Comparisons can only be made on objects created from the same class:
datetime.datetime.now() >= datetime.date.today()
This will result in a
TypeError: can't compare datetime.datetime to datetime.date
Comparing Timezone-Naive Datetimes
Let's start off with comparing naive dates, which don't have any timezone information. First, we'll want to import the
from datetime import datetime, date
Then, let's make a few dates that we can compare:
date1 = date(1995, 3, 20) date2 = date(2020, 1, 1) dob_a = datetime(1995, 3, 20) dob_b = datetime(2020, 1, 1)
Comparing these objects is made as easy as comparing, say, integers. A date is less than another, if its time precedes the other.
In our case,
date1 is considered less (
date2 because it's farther back in time:
print("date1 comes before date2?", date1 < date2) print("date1 comes after date2?", date1 > date2) print("date1 is equal to date2?", date1 == date2)
This results in:
date1 comes before date2? True date1 comes after date2? False date1 is equal to date2? False
Now, you'd typically incorporate this logic into some flow-control statements:
if dob_a > dob_b: print("person a is older than person b") else: print("person b is older than person a")
This results in:
person b is older than person a
Comparing Timezone-Aware Datetimes
Time zones can complicate things a bit, though, thankfully, we can apply the exact same logic to the comparison. The only difference is that we're working with aware dates - dates with additional information about the time zone they're in:
from datetime import datetime import pytz # Create timezone objects for different parts of the world tz_ny= pytz.timezone('America/New_York') tz_lon = pytz.timezone("Europe/London") # Year, Month, Day, Hour, Minute, Second datetime = datetime(2010, 4, 20, 23, 30, 0) # Localize the given date, according to the timezone objects date_with_timezone_1 = tz_ny.localize(datetime) date_with_timezone_2 = tz_lon.localize(datetime) # These are now, effectively no longer the same *date* after being localized print(date_with_timezone_1) # 2010-04-20 23:30:00-04:00 print(date_with_timezone_2) # 2010-04-20 23:30:00+01:00 print(date_with_timezone_1 == date_with_timezone_2)
Running this code results in:
While this statement:
Check out our hands-on, practical guide to learning Git, with best-practices, industry-accepted standards, and included cheat sheet. Stop Googling Git commands and actually learn it!
print(date_with_timezone_1 > date_with_timezone_2)
Would result in:
Now, this result might strike you as a bit odd. We're comparing these two datetimes:
2010-04-20 23:30:00-04:00 # date_with_timezone_1 2010-04-20 23:30:00+01:00 # date_with_timezone_2
Intuitively, it looks like
date_with_timezone_2 is indeed larger than
date_with_timezone_1. Though, let's take a look at how the
localize() function works.
Here, we've used the
pytz library to make our naive dates aware. We've constructed a timezone object for New York (
tz_ny), and a timezone object for London (
Then, to inject timezone information into our
datetime object, we've run the
localize() function and packed the result into
We've put in 11:30PM into
localize(), which in turn created a datetime for 11:30PM in New York, and 11:30PM in London respectively. To get from 11:30PM in New York, to 11:30PM in London, you'd have to add 4 hours. More time has passed to get New York to 11:30PM, than it took to get London to 11:30PM. Thus, the datetime corresponding to New York at 11:30PM is larger than the datetime corresponding to London at 11:30PM.
Please keep this behavior in mind when working with timezones this way.
However, it is worthy of note that comparing aware dates with naive dates will result in an error:
date_with_timezone = tz_ny.localize(datetime) print(datetime == date_without_timezone)
This will result in the following error:
TypeError: can't compare offset-naive and offset-aware datetimes
So to compare datetime objects, both objects must both be either naive or aware.
In this article, we have discussed ways of comparing both timezone-aware and timezone-naive dates in Python, we have also looked at possible pitfalls that we may encounter when comparing dates and possible workarounds.
If you have any questions or contributions please leave them in the comments section below.