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The Chinese Calendar


By LeeAnn Neal - 6/13/2013

Red Chinese lantern
  Photo Credit: cowardlion / Shutterstock.com

The Chinese calendar incorporates aspects of the seasons and the lunar calendar into the solar calendar. Known as a lunisolar calendar, it is used by many Asian cultures.

Contemporary China relies on the solar calendar, which is recognized internationally, for daily life, but turns to the traditional Chinese calendar for recognizing holidays such as Chinese New Year. The Chinese calendar is also used in astrology as well as to choose dates for important life events such as weddings.

Each year in the Chinese calendar generally begins on the second new moon following winter solstice. Chinese New Year, much like Easter, is on a different date each year as a result of the shorter length of the lunar calendar. The holiday usually lands between mid-January and late February on the solar calendar.

The Chinese calendar is divided into 12 months of 29 or 30 days each. Years are then arranged in 12-year cycles with each year named in order after one of the 12 Chinese zodiac animal signs - Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

In Chinese astrology, the universe is composed of five elements - metal, water, wood, fire and earth. Consequently, everything and everyone within the universe relates to these elements. The Chinese apply the elements even to intangible things such as directions, seasons, sounds, months and days.

In addition to evolving in cycles of 12 years, Chinese calendar years evolve in 10-year cycles, with each year ruled by one of the elements.

When relating to a person, the elements, which are calculated from an individual's time and date of birth, offer insights into his or mental, emotional and physical makeup.

Culturally speaking, the Chinese calendar is still vital. Most traditional celebrations and festivals, including Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival, are held on new or full moons. As mentioned above, Chinese people still rely on the old calendar to choose dates for business deals and other important events.

Many traditional calendars in other East Asian countries are similar to the Chinese calendar. While the Korean calendar is exactly the same, others include simple substitutions - a large snake for the Dragon in the Thai lunar calendar, and a cat for the Rabbit in the Vietnamese calendar, for instance.

Your Chinese calendar year of birth determines your animal zodiac sign and your cosmic element. For example, if you were born between Feb. 6, 1970 and Jan. 26, 1971, you are a Metal Dog. Adding the element metal to the Dog sign results in a person who sets incredibly high standards for himself. He is a perfectionist who cannot turn his back on a commitment, and who hates when others do. Many say he is loyal to a fault.

To understand how different elements can affect a given sign, note that a Water Dog is much more liberal and flexible than other Dogs, while Wood Dogs are considered easy-going and affectionate. Fire Dogs are charismatic and honest, while Earth Dogs are rational and fair-minded.


 








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