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Chinese Culture >> Chinese Society Traditions >> Chinese Calendar

Chinese Calendar

The Chinese calendar is a yearly calendar just like the western one and its beginning is based on the cycles of the moon. Hence, the Chinese New Year can fall anywhere between late January and mid-February. In 2007, or the Chinese year 4705, the Chinese New Year is on February 18.

There are three different ways to name a Chinese Year. It is named to after an animal, by its formal names using the stem-branch system and by the year that marks the beginning of the reign of Yellow King, the first king of China who was crowned as the king in 2697 B.C. For instance, 2007 is going to mark the 4705th year of the Chinese. A complete Chinese calendar cycle is of 60 years, having five cycles of twelve years each. And each of these 12 years is named after an animal meaning these names are repeated every twelve year.

Typical Chinese calendarAccording to the Chinese legend, Buddha summoned all the animals to him before he departed from the earth. Only twelve arrived as a sign of obedience and in turn he rewarded them by naming the years after them in the order in which they arrived at the end of the contest. Legend has it that the animals assembled at one bank of the river to compete in the contest to assist Buddha in ascertaining who should head the cycle of years. The animals assembled on one bank of the river and happily splashed into the river to be the first one to swim across to the other bank so as to have the first year of the animal cycle named after it. The rat being clever, unknown to the Ox, jumped on his back and just as the Ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off his back and won the race while the pig being extremely lazy and sluggish ended up last. That is the reason for the Rat being the first year of the animal cycle and the Pig last. The Chinese believe that the ruling animal of every year moulds the personality traits of persons born in that year. Here's one complete Chinese calendar cycle, along with the ruling animals. Just check it out:

The Stem-branch system is also quite an amusing system of classification. The branches are the twelve years while there are ten stems that are used in the counting system. The stems are metal, water, wood, fire and soil; each having a yang (positive) and a yin (negative) side. There are a lot of intricate details that sum up as to how this complex system works but what is more important to notice is that in the system there are elements that correlate to colors. For instance, metal stands for white or golden, water stands for black, wood stands for green, fire stands for red and soil for brown. Thus if we take this system of naming then the year 2007 will be addressed as the year of the Red Pig. Let us take a close look at the stem branch system of naming years

Chinese Calendar Year Element yin or - / yang or + Animal Stem Branch Western Date 4705 fire (yang) pig ding hai 02/17/2007 4706 earth (yin) rat wu zi 02/06/2008 4707 earth (yang) ox ji chou 01/25/2009 4708 metal (yin) tiger geng yin 02/13/2010 4709 metal (yang) rabbit xin mao 02/02/2011 4710 water (yin) dragon ren chen 01/22/2012 4711 water (yang) snake gui si 02/09/2013 4712 wood (yin) horse jia wu 01/30/2014 4713 wood (yang) goat yi wei 02/18/2015 4714 fire (yin) monkey bing shen 02/07/2016 4715 fire (yang) rooster ding you 01/27/2017 4716 earth (yin) dog wu xu 02/15/2018 4717 earth (yang) pig ji hai 02/04/2019 4718 metal (yin) rat geng zi 01/24/2020 Each of the elements in the stem-branch system is again of extreme importance for to a great extent it determines the characteristic trait of a person: Metal - Stability, strength of will, fluency of speech. Water - Powers of reflection, sensitivity, persuasiveness. Wood - Imagination, creativity, idealism, compassion. Fire - Dynamism, passion, energy, aggression, leadership. Earth - Stability, reliability, practicality, industry, prudence.

About the Author

Sean Carter writes on events and holidays celebrated round the globe - Chinese New Year, Christmas, Rosh-Hashanah, Diwali and many more . He is a writer with special interest in ecard industry.He is an active blogger and contributes to Chinese New Year Blog