Published: 2021-02-13 14:21:00
Updated: 2021-02-13 14:37:11
By Tony Rice, NASA Ambassador
A new year arrived to the lunisolar calendar used in China, South Korea, Vietname, and elswhere as the Moon reached new phase on Thursday, February 11.
Traditionally a period when many Chinese travel to visit family, for fellowship, feasts and red envelopes filled with cash gifts. Celebrations are more subdued for 2021's arrival of the year of the ox.
Locally, the Triangle Area Chinese American Society is be streaming prerecorded and live presentations of Lions and Dragon and folk dances, music, and games on Saturday February 13 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The date slides around the Gregorian calendar because months don't line up very well with the lunar cycle which don't line up with the tropical year.
The lunar cycle, or time between new moons, lasts about 29.5 days. Like the Gregorian calendar used around the world, the Chinese calendar deals with the not 29 but also not 30 day long cycle by varying the length of its months.
None of this lines up with the tropical year, or 365.243 days it takes the Earth to complete an orbit around the Sun. The solution is adding intercalary, or leap days to the end of the year to bring things back into alignment about every three years in the larger 60-year cycle.
Year 4717 began in the Chinese calendar on January 25, 2020, A 13th month was added to the end of that calendar shifting New Year celebrations to February 11. New Year celebrations will be nearly a week earlier in each of the next two years until celebrations shift ahead 19 days to Feb 10, 2024.