What day is it: reconciling calendars

8 January 2007

Chinese new year is a big deal in Hawai`i. And it is coming soon, in the middle of February, but I wanted to know how to calculate it. Is it based on a lunar event after a seasonal day, like Easter is? The short answer, as it turns out, is: no.

The full Chinese calendar is pretty complicated, but the best explanation I found of how it works is at the Web Exhibits Calendars page. That website is an excellent all around resource, too. Only a few topics, but really detailed and thoughtfully arranged information on those topics.

If you just want to know the dates, Wikipedia comes again to the rescue.  As to how it is calculated, it seems to me that the lengths and orders of months are determined pretty precisely, along with intercalary months and leap years, such that the coincidence with solar events is pretty automatic. Which, of course, means that the calculations are that much more complicated and disagreements that much more difficult to resolve. I’ll work on the chain of association and get back to you. In the mean time, start planning your party and be sure to invite some lion dancers.

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