Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the beginning of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. Celebrations traditionally run from the previous evening of the first day to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month. The first day of the new year falls on the new moon between January 21 and February 20.
The New Year Festival has a centuries-old history and various myths and traditions have gained prominence. Traditionally, the festival is when ancestors, as well as gods, are honored. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and regions with significant Chinese populations, such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, and the Philippines. Chinese New Year is considered an important holiday by the Chinese and has had a significant impact on the lunar New Year celebrations of its geographical neighbors.
The Lunar New Year is especially popular in East Asia, where it is influenced by the Chinese New Year and the Chinese Calendar. However, it is a component of the South and Southeast Asian Hindu-Buddhist calendars, the Jewish calendar, and the Islamic calendar.
What are the features of the Lunar (Chinese) Calendar?
The Lunar New Year marks the start of a calendar year whose months are moon cycles, as determined by the lunar calendar or lunisolar calendar. The calendar we use in our daily lives is based on the Earth’s movements around the Sun. The lunar calendar is based on the full cycles of the Moon.
The lunar calendar is based on the Moon’s full cycles (synodic months) rather than the Earth’s motions around the Sun. A solar year, also called a “seasonal year”, has 12.37 synodic months, so the lunar year is completed more quickly. Therefore, when converting Lunar calendars to Solar calendars, a certain period must be added (periodic intercalation). The beginning of the month varies from the calendar to calendar. According to some calendars, the period begins with a new moon, full moon, or crescent moon. In some calendars, a detailed account is used.
What is the place of the Lunar Calendar in history?
The Sumerians were probably the first civilization to use a calendar based on the lunar cycles. The Sumerian-Babylonian months began on the day the new moon appeared. Court astronomers made necessary adjustments to the calendar when seasonal errors became obvious. Around 380 BC, fixed adjustments were introduced to the lunar calendars. 7 leap months were added to years in 19-year periods. Later, it is known that Greek astronomers made various arrangements to adapt the lunar year to the solar year.
Today, some ethnic and religious groups still use the lunar calendar. For instance, the Jewish calendar begins 3760 years and 3 months before Christ. The Jewish year begins in the fall. Months are 29 or 30 days. It adapts to the Solar calendar with leap years and months. Another lunar calendar is the Hijri calendar, which is based on the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s Migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. Adjustments are not made to adapt this calendar to the solar year.
Although the Gregorian calendar is in common and legal use in most countries, traditional holiday and lunisolar calendars continue to be used in the Old World to designate religious and national holidays. These holidays include Ramadan (Islamic calendar); Easter, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Mongolian New Year (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Mongolian calendars); Nepalese New Year (Nepal calendar); Mid-Autumn Festival and Chuseok (Chinese and Korean calendars); Loi Krathong (Thai calendar); Sunuwar calendar; Diwali (Hindu calendars); and Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew calendar).
What are the differences between solar and lunar calendars?
The most widely used calendar, the Gregorian calendar, is a solar calendar system that evolved from a lunar calendar system. Lunar calendars lose 11 days per year relative to the Gregorian calendar, as the months in the lunar calendars vary between 29 and 30 days.
There are obvious differences between the solar and lunar calendars. Because both of them have different reference points according to the world. The differences between the solar and lunar calendars are as follows:
- The solar calendar has 365 days. The lunar calendar is 354 days.
- A month in the solar calendar has 30 days. A month in the lunar calendar has 29 or 30 days.
- In the solar calendar, the equinox meets. There are no equinoxes in the lunar calendar.
- While the Hijri calendar is based on the lunar year principles, the solar year calendars are based on the solar year principles. For this reason, there is an 11-day difference between the solar and lunar calendars.
- The start dates of the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar year calendar, and the Hijri calendar, which is based on a lunar year, are different from each other.
- The beginning of the Hijri calendar, which is the lunar calendar, is accepted as the migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, while the beginning of the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the solar year, is accepted as 0 “zero” as the birth of the Prophet Jesus.