While the Western New Year has already started on the 1st of January 2018, the Chinese New year is yet to come. In this article I am going to explain why you should celebrate the Chinese New Year, even if you are from another culture! But first, a simple matter. When does it even start? Let’s see the Chinese calendar and understand when the Chinese New Year of starts in 2018.
When does the Chinese Earth Dog year of 2018 start?
Of the 12 Chinese animals, the Dog sign rules this year. A Yang Earth Dog, to be more precise. This Qi (energy) of the year bring mostly the Earth Element, and there are no tension between two Elements like last year for example (Fire-Metal clash in 2017). This influence will manifest a trend for the world that I will soon detail in my astrology predictions for the world in 2018: world predictions for the Earth Dog year. They also bring a theme to your own Chinese sign and then Bazi for love, career, money and health. You can find the horoscopes for 2018 on this site.
The question is a simple one: when does the Chinese New Year start in 2018?
The answer is however not that simple. With the Chinese system of metaphysics and calendar, it is always a bit complex, but also more accurate. Most of you have noticed by now that the Chinese New Year date seems to change every year, contrary to the Western one. This can seem odds, but you have to see what it is based on.
This changing date is devised on a lunar year. It takes about 29.5 days for the moon to make a full orbit around our planet earth. This is one lunar month. A lunar year is made of 12 lunar months. 12 x 29.5 = 354 days for a lunar year. As you are all smart readers, you’ll notice that 354 is shorter than 365 days.
This explains why the start of the Chinese year is different each time.
To compensate for the shorter year compared to the solar one, Chinese people add an extra lunar month every 3 years. An intercalary month somehow…Why every 3 years? Well there is 11 days difference between a lunar and solar year. After 3 years have fully passed, we have a 3 x 11 = 33 days difference. It is close to the 29.5, and so the time to add the extra month to balance out the whole system is on this third year. And so by adding this extra lunar month in the system, there is never a huge gap growing between the lunar and solar year. Those years with one extra lunar month are known as leap years. The Rooster year of 2017 was a leap year.
Right! I hope you are still following. With this lunar year of 354 days…
The year of the Earth Dog starts on the 16th of February 2018. First date to remember.
Where there is Yin, there is Yang. If we have a lunar start, we also have a solar start. This second date is based on a solar year of 365 days. The start is not based on the solar solstice. It is a different logic, which I explain in the next paragraph. This solar start of the year is usually on the 3rd, 4th or 5th of February.
The solar start of the year of the Earth Dog is on the 4th of February 2018. This is the second date to remember.
Now that you know the 2 dates, you might wonder why it is relevant to your life; especially if you are from a culture that is not Chinese…
I am not Chinese: why should I celebrate the Chinese New Year?
The simple answer is that astrologically and astronomically, it makes much more sense. The Western year and its start on the 1st of January is a convention. Not to say that conventions have no effects on our lives, far from it. They however reflect the human part in the concept of the taoist 3 Lucks: Heaven, Human and Earth. Actually, for a long time the start of the year was on the 1st of April – and here I am not joking! The start of the year on the 1st of January is based more on the logic of people who wants to control nature and the Universe. A start of the year based on the movement of the planets is a different logic; one where we, humans, acknowledge that there are greater forces than their will influencing our lives, and that we want to be in harmony with them. So to summarize the Western start of the year is more a control freak logic, while the Chinese start of the year is attuned with natural laws.
The further proof that the date of the 1st of January is a civil one rather than astronomical, you can look at the history of civilisations. Depending of whom you consider – Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks, Celts – the date for such celebration was based on the different equinox and solstices, which make more sense. The vernal equinox around the 20th of March, the autumnal equinox around the 20th of September, or the Winter solstice around the 20th of December. The Romans at some point celebrated their year on the 1st of April, close to the Vernal equinox. The custom of celebration on that day was somehow kept with the April’s fool, but the move to the 1st of January is something else. It was introduced in 1582 by the Gregorian calendar, a decision made by Pope Gregory XIII. And so as you can see it is a Christian decision that reshaped Western civilizations, but as nothing to do with the greater movements of nature and the Universe.
And so which dates should we logically consider to start a new year? Solstice and equinox were indeed a good logic. The boreal Winter solstice is now around the 22nd of December. In the Northern hemisphere it is the shortest day of the year; after that, the days get longer. Which means that the Yang energy grows again from this point onward, until it reaches its peak in summer. So astrologically, a date around the 20th or 22nd of December could be the start of a year.
However this is not what Chinese people use, however. That would be too easy!
Based on lunar and solar movement now, the two dates that start a Chinese year are aligned with a new orbit for the moon around the earth, or for the Earth around the Sun. Those two dates chosen for the Chinese year therefore also make sense as they represent a real shift in energy.
To summarise, the movements that represents change of Chi between September and February are:
- The autumn equinox, around the 20th of September
- Samhain/Halloween, half way through the autumn equinox and winter solstice (31st of October)
- The December solstice. On the next day, the Yang energy grows again and the Yin decline in the Northern hemisphere. A good case could be made for this date to be the “real” beginning of the year.
- The lunar start of the year in either January or February. To be technical: it must start on the 11th lunar month and is based on a new moon during this period. This is the time of the year when the moon starts a whole new cycle.
- The solar start of the year in February, when the Sun is at 315 degree exactly. It usually falls on the 4th of February, but can be on the 3rd or 5th. This is the beginning of the new solar cycle for a year and for Chinese the beginning of the Spring season.
Culturally of course the 1st of January has a weight, but it has more to do with numerology and cultural customs. In term of real shift of the Chi and start of new energies, those astronomical events which are the lunar and solar start of a cycle are more logical. This is also the reason why the influences of the Chinese New Year can already start after the December solstice (Yang energy rising) but this is foreplay; the real shift is with the lunar and then solar starts.
By now you understand that the dates of the Chinese New Year represents a change of Chi, a new energy; the Western date is a human decision less based on natural movements. And so back to the question: why should you celebrate the Chinese New Year?
Simply put, to have a good life, your intents and actions must be in synch with the flow of the Universe. We all have the power to create part of our lives, but we are also part of something much greater. By following the movements of nature the Universe and aiming at being in synch with it, you will then be in the flow of the New Year and its energy. It comes to: swimming with the river or trying to swim upstream. Which one is effortless and will save your energy? Why one takes you somewhere else faster? Going with the flow of the river of course. You then have much better chances to bring prosperity, abundance and even love within your life by aligning your intent with the “music of the spheres”, the movement of the planets influencing us all.
So it doesn’t matter if you are Chinese or not: celebrating the Chinese New Year properly will give you higher chances to be lucky and manifest the life you want in 2018, year of the Earth Dog. Celebrate it both on the 4th of February 2018 (solar calendar) and on the 16th of February 2018 (lunar start)!
And now in part two, discover 13 Feng Shui tips to get a lucky start for the year of the Earth Dog!