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Chinese Culture newlight on 04 Feb 2010 09:56 pm

Year of Tiger begins

Today is the beginning of the Year of Tiger. Hold on, I hear you say, isn’t the 14 Feb this year’s the Chinese New Year Day?

Well, you are right. Chinese calendar is a lunar calendar, which means the date of new year’s day in relation to western calendar always changes. And this year it falls on Valentine’s Day, when the Chinese 庚寅 (geng1 yin2) year starts.

However, a common mistake is to think the Year of Tiger starts on the Chinese New Year Day. Indeed, a press release from the Great London Authority confidently states, “The Year of the Tiger begins on 14 February”.

It’s easy to think Chinese only use lunar calendar. Actually, the Chinese zodiac, the 12 animals that represent each year in cycle, is associated with the Chinese agricultural calendar, which is a solar calendar. A year begins at the day of Spring Commences (立春), the first of the 24 solar segments of a Chinese solar calendar year. Since the Gregorian calendar is also a solar calendar. The date of Spring Commences doesn’t change a lot each year, always being 3 Feb or 4 Feb, unlike the Chinese New Year’s Day which changes widely, for example from last year’s 26 Jan to this year’s 14 Feb.

There is an online calendar that will show you the Chinese calendar along side the Gregorian calendar, plus common eastern and western holidays.

18 Responses to “Year of Tiger begins”

  1. on 04 Feb 2010 at 23:13 1.gadfly said …

    You confused the Ganzhi calendar with the Chinese traditional calendar. The traditional Chinese calendar is not a pure lunar calendar (the Islamic calendar is a typical lunar one) but a comination of lunar and solar one (in Chinese Yin Yang He Li). In this case, the new year starts at the first day of the first monty rather than Lichun. Only fortune-teller who adapted Ganzhi calendar which used the Lichun as the begining of a year, However in Traditional Chinese medicine, Dahan is used as the transitional day of Yun Qi of between years.

  2. on 05 Feb 2010 at 00:31 2.newlight said …

    It is a confusing topic. I guess what I tried to say is that, it is not right to say ‘the Year of Tiger begins on 14 Feb’.

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  4. on 23 Apr 2011 at 09:59 4.Tomas Park said …

    Actually, it is a calendar developed in ancient times, and now used in several countries, including China, Korea, Vietnam, etc. Calling it the Chinese calendar is a bit misleading

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