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Chinese Culture newlight on 28 Jan 2007 02:31 pm

When does the year of pig start?

You may be aware that 2007 is the year of pig. Since the Chinese New Year starts on 18th of Febuary, any baby born on or after that will be born in the year of pig (boar seems more appropriate term), and associated with fortune and fertility, if you believe that sort of things. Indeed the coming year of pig is called ‘gold-pig year‘, and many Chinese couples are planning to have baby this year. If you are born before that, sorry baby, you’ve missed out. Or have you?

I’ve only learned recently that the ‘zodiac year of pig’ starts not on 18th of Febuary, but 4th of Febuary of 2007, when the Chinese solar term ‘Spring Commences‘ (立春) starts. Chinese use both lunar calendar (as in Chinese New Year) and solar calendar. The solar calendar was mainly used for planning agriculure activity and predicting weather. The whole year, according to the solar calendar, is divided into 24 solar terms based on the movement of the sun. And the date of each term matchs very well with the Julie’s calendar – because both are solar calendar. So ‘Spring Commences’ is always 4th or 5th of Febuary. This makes it easy for anyone who happens to be in around January or Febuary to know which animal he or she is associated with.


The 24 solar terms are difficult to translated into English, but I’ve found a list of elegant translation, from Hong Kong Observatory’s website, plus some clear explaination of the 24 solar terms. The followings are their translation:

1. 立春 Spring Commences
2. 雨水 Spring Showers
3. 惊蛰 Insects Waken
4. 春分 Vernal Equinox
5. 清明 Bright and Clear
6. 谷雨 Corn Rain
7. 立夏 Summer Commences
8. 小满 Corn Forms
9. 芒种 Corn on Ear
10. 夏至 Summer Solstice
11. 小暑 Moderate Heat
12. 大暑 Great Heat
13. 立秋 Autumn Commences
14. 处暑 End of Heat
15. 白露 White Dew
16. 秋分 Autumnal Equinox
17. 寒露 Cold Dew
18. 霜降 Frost
19. 立冬 Winter Commences
20. 小雪 Light Snow
21. 大雪 Heavy Snow
22. 冬至 Winter Solstice
23. 小寒 Moderate Cold
24. 大寒 Severe Cold

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