This is following a previous question that was graciously answered by Milo earlier here - How to sort CPT by custom meta value (date), and return posts month by month

In short, I'm having some issues with properly formatting my custom meta box date's in a few areas... Namely, in the back-end in my custom columns, and then in the front-end in my archive template.

For example, in my archive template I'm trying to return the current date that the posts belong to via the code pasted below, but when I visit a month with no posts my template returns the date "January 1970" instead.

<?php $calendar_month = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'epr_startdate', TRUE);?>
<?php $this_month = strtotime($calendar_month); ?>
<span id="current_month"><?php echo date( 'F Y', $this_month ); ?></span>

Additionally, in the back-end I'm trying to have it so that if just the "start date" is created then ONLY output that information, whereas, if the user enters both a "start date" and an "end date" then retun both dates, but when I use the code example below my start dates are returned in duplicate like this instead: Mar 3, 2013 — Mar 3, 2013.

case "eventdate":
                $eventstart = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'epr_startdate', true);
                $eventstart_col = strtotime($eventstart);

                $eventend = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'epr_enddate', true);
                $eventend_col = strtotime($eventend);

                if ( get_post_meta($post->ID, 'epr_startdate', true) && ! get_post_meta($post->ID, 'epr_enddate', true) )
                    echo date( 'M n, Y', $eventstart_col );
                elseif ( get_post_meta($post->ID, 'epr_enddate', true) )
                    echo date( 'M n, Y', $eventstart_col ) . ' &mdash; ' . date( 'M n, Y', $eventend_col );
                    echo 'NA';

Thank you in advance for your time.


Big thank you to s_ha_dum for his patience and support!
Pasted below are the final working solutions to my question...

Correctly outputting the date when no posts exist for the currently queried month:

<?php $this_month = strtotime($calendar_month);
if (false === $this_month) {
$this_month = strtotime(get_query_var( 'calendar_year' ) . get_query_var( 'calendar_month' ) .'01');
} ?>
<span id="current_month"><?php echo date( 'F Y', $this_month ); ?></span><?php

Custom columns:

case "eventdate":
                $start_date = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'epr_startdate', true);
                $start_date_col = strtotime($start_date);           
                $end_date = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'epr_enddate', true);
                $end_date_col = strtotime($end_date);
                if ( $start_date_col && !$end_date_col ) 
                    echo date( 'M d, Y', $start_date_col );
                elseif ( $start_date_col && $end_date_col )
                    echo date( 'M d, Y', $start_date_col ) . ' &mdash; ' . date( 'M d, Y', $end_date_col );  
                    echo 'NA';

Redirecting /calendar -> /calendar/yyyy/mm:

function redirect_empty_archive() {
$m = get_query_var('calendar_month');
$y = get_query_var('calendar_year');
    if (
        is_post_type_archive('calendar') &&
        ( empty($m) || empty($y) )
    ) {
        wp_safe_redirect( '/calendar' . date('/Y/m') );
  • To get an answer your going to have to make the question shorter, just show some simple examples of what you get compared to what you're expecting.
    – Wyck
    Mar 13, 2013 at 5:09
  • OK, thanks. I was worried too little would not be enough hence the long post. I will shorten it.
    – Mr.Brown
    Mar 13, 2013 at 5:36
  • I've truncated my question to only show the most important information now. Thanks.
    – Mr.Brown
    Mar 13, 2013 at 17:54
  • As regards the second part - are you sure you are saving the start and end dates correctly? You are not saving the start date into both fields?
    – vancoder
    Mar 13, 2013 at 18:19
  • I believe they are being saved correctly, yes. They are being stored via a date and time picker from the meta box plugin in yyyy/mm/dd format which is why I'm attempting to use strtotime to change the format on the front end. The user has the option to enter just a start date, or both.
    – Mr.Brown
    Mar 13, 2013 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


but when I visit a month with no posts my template returns the date "January 1970" instead.

Yes. That will happen. UNIXTIME began on Jan 1, 1970. That is "0000/00/00" but negative numbers work back until sometime in 1901. strtotime will return false for anything outside that range, including your nonexistent dates. date will assume "day zero" if given a bad date, hence you get Jan 1, 1970 for nonexistent or otherwise flawed dates. 64 bit machines can handle larger ranges, if I remember correctly. Either way a nonexistent date will give you 1970. Try:

$calendar_month = "1901/01/01";
$this_month = strtotime($calendar_month);
echo '<br />';
echo date('Y',$this_month);
echo '<br />';

You want to make sure you have a good date before displaying it.

<?php $this_month = strtotime($calendar_month); 
if (false !== $this_month) { ?>
  <span id="current_month"><?php echo date( 'F Y', $this_month ); ?></span><?php

Your other code is a little bulky, but looks like it should work except that your date format is wrong. You aren't getting "Month Day, Year" as I suspect you want but "Month-Name Month-Number, Year", which will look like a duplicate if the two dates are in the same month/year. Take a good look at the date formatting operators.

$eventstart = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'epr_startdate', true);
$eventstart_col = strtotime($eventstart);

$eventend = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'epr_enddate', true);
$eventend_col = strtotime($eventend);

if ( $eventstart_col && !$eventend_col ) {
    // only the start date
    echo date( 'M d, Y', $eventstart_col );
} elseif ( $eventstart_col && $eventend_col ) {
    // both start and end date
    echo date( 'M d, Y', $eventstart_col ) . ' &mdash; ' . date( 'M d, Y', $eventend_col );  
} else {
    echo 'NA';

I think I have that put back together correctly.

  • Thank you so much for the help! I'm out of town right now but when I get back in I will give this a go and report back. Really appreciate the response, thank you!
    – Mr.Brown
    Mar 16, 2013 at 23:43
  • The custom columns fix works excellent, thank you! The first part of your code only produced January 1901 for me however.
    – Mr.Brown
    Mar 17, 2013 at 4:25
  • The first part of my code would produce January 1901, as that is the date I hard-coded. That was illustrative. You aren't supposed to use that code for anything other than just proof of concept. If you are on a 32 bit machine that should return false. On a 64 bit it probably gives you the right date. I assume you are on a 64 bit machine. If you want to get false on a 64 bit machine just mess with the date. You will eventually get there but I don't know (without looking it up) exactly where that mark is. Use null or a very old date like "1000/01/01", or an empty string instead of a date.
    – s_ha_dum
    Mar 17, 2013 at 4:34
  • Doh! Sorry I missed that. Ok, well assuming Im doing this right, using an empty string returns nothing. Does it make a difference that this date is coming from a jquery date picker?
    – Mr.Brown
    Mar 17, 2013 at 5:22
  • 1
    let us continue this discussion in chat
    – s_ha_dum
    Mar 17, 2013 at 17:32

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