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Why Does Chinese New Year Fall on a Different Date Each Year?

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the Chinese New Year falls on a

different day every year.

Why is this so?

I asked myself the same question and finally I understood

outside.

Spring begins (立春, lìchūn) each year around February 4 (in

the western calendar).

The first day of the Chinese New Year begins on the New Moon

closest to spring.

(That’s why the Chinese New Year is called the spring

Festival.)

And ends at the Full Moon 15 days later with the Lantern

Festival.

The first day of Chinese New Year is always between January 21

and February 21.

But why are Chinese New Year dates so “unpredictable”?

To answer this question, we must look at how a month in

the Chinese calendar or the lunar calendar is calculated.

A Chinese month yue4 月 which means “moon” is a REAL moon.

Each lunar month begins on the day of the new moon.

It is the day when the moon is closest to the sun and not

visible at all.

Does that mean you have to look up at the sky every time to

say the new moon?

Fortunately, the answer is “no”.

Otherwise, there will be a lot of torticollis!

Because the new moon occurs with enough regularity to conceive

a calendar based on its phases.

(Full moon in the middle of the month. Moon wanes at the end

of the month).

On average, each lunar month has 29.5 days.

(Sometimes the months are 29 days and other times they are

30 days.)

But multiplying 29.5 days by 12 months gives 354 days.

That is 11 days less than 365 1/4 days, the cycle of

four Seasons.

Or 11 days “faster” if you prefer.

So how does the Chinese calendar “expect” the natural

world to catch up?

By adding an extra month to make a “thirteen-month year”.

Well, not every year, but every few years.

How often? It turns out seven times every nineteen.

In this way, the Chinese calendar year keeps pace with

the real world.

Each year of the Chinese calendar is also named after one of the

12 Chinese zodiac animals.

Last year, 2005 was the year of the rooster and 2006 the year

year of the dog.

Go to http://www.living-chinese-symbols.com/chinese-new-year-dates.html for a table of

Chinese New Year dates from the year 1900 to 2019, you can

use to say what your animal sign is.

It’s a “cool” system because you won’t have to remember

how old are you.

You will only have to know in which animal year you were born

in!

Here is a list of Chinese New Year dates from

year 2000 to 2014 to [http://www.living-chinese-]

symbols.com/chinese-new-year-dates.html

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