Pass notes: Chinese calendar

This month we celebrate Chinese as our Language of the Month, and with Chinese New Year approaching, we ask language tutor Zi Ye about the Chinese calendar.

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival,  this year is on 19 February 2015. This is the most important celebration of the year for Chinese people. During this time, people get together with their families and have a New Year’s Eve family meal. They visit friends and relatives. Children receive pocket money in red envelopes. There are also lion dances, fireworks and New Year markets. People normally start to prepare for the New Year celebrations from the last month of the previous year. The New Year celebrations can run from New Year’s Eve to the 15th day of the first month, the ‘Lantern Festival’.

You may ask, “Why is the Chinese New Year in February? I thought it was in January”. I am often asked when Chinese New Year is. The fact is, it changes every year. It does so simply because the Chinese New Year, like other traditional Chinese festivals, is based on Lunisolar Calendar. In this calendar, the years begin on the day in which the dark moon nears the vernal commence and the months begin on the day with the dark moon.

The present Chinese calendar has been developed over thousands of years. It not only includes celebration dates, but also astronomical and seasonal factors. For example, you should see the brightest full moon on the ‘mid-autumn festival’. In addition, it even can indicate the best time for certain activities, such as weddings, moving, travel or opening a new business. It is a very sophisticated system and can be tied very closely to Chinese people’s daily lives. That is why in China, we normally have a combination calendar. 

Sound interesting? Why not go online and check the Chinese calendar? Surprise your Chinese friends by reminding them about the coming traditional Chinese festival; check how round the moon should be; or simply pick a lucky day for your daily activities.

Wish you very good luck for Chinese New Year, the year of Goat!

This month we celebrate Chinese as our Language of the Month, and with Chinese New Year approaching, we ask language tutor Zi Ye about the Chinese calendar.


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