China gets to celebrate a New Year Twice

In China it’s possible to celebrate the New Year twice in the same year in different months on different days.

While the Gregorian calendar celebrates the New Year on January 1st of every year, the Chinese Lunar New Year falls on February 5th (Tuesday) 2019, and the festival will last to February 19th, about 15 days in total.

2019 is the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese zodiac.

Chinese years are counted in a repeating twelve-year sequence, each year symbolized by an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

In 2018, the Lunar New Year started on February 16th.


Chinese New Year Dragon Dance – Shanghai Disneyland – Shanghai Disney Resort

The Chinese Lunar New Year is defined as the second new moon after the winter solstice; thus it begins sometime between late January and mid-February, approximately at the beginning of Spring (which, in the Chinese calendar, starts forty-five days after the winter solstice). It is celebrated not only in China, but also in Korea, Vietnam (where it is known as Tet), and in Chinese communities around the world.

China established its calendar systems as far back as the 14th century B.C. Shang Dynasty, and over the centuries that calendar was modified and adjusted, but they were always based on calculations of the positions of sun and moon, and even the earliest records have the Chinese New Year beginning at a new moon near the winter solstice.

Since the months of the Chinese calendar are derived from the lunar cycle, which lasts 29.53 days on average, its months are either 29 or 30 days long. Like the Western calendar, the Chinese calendar’s ordinary year has 12 months, but a leap year, every two or three years, adds an extra 13th month. The ordinary year in the Chinese calendar runs between 353 and 355 days, but during a leap year it runs 383 to 385 days.


Shanghai’s New Year’s Eve on December 31, 2017

The Western calendar is a solar calendar based on the Earth’s revolution of the sun and the progression of seasons. Consequently, every month has the same number of days from year to year, except during a leap year.

The Western Gregorian calendar is a modification of the Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Cesar in 45 B.C.

If you are curious how the months were named for the Gregorian calendar, here’s a hint – January through December were not based on the zodiac like China’s Lunar calendar was. Click this link to Wonderpolis.org to discover how each month for this calendar got their names. One example: July was named after Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. Previously, July was called “Quintilis,” which is Latin for “fifth.”

Was this one of the reasons why Cesar was assassinated?

With the exception of February, each month in the Western calendar has 30 or 31 days, and there are 12 months every year. That means China’s Lunar calendar has a much longer history than the West’s calendar … about 1,500 years older than the Gregorian one.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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