Thursday, January 27, 2005

Aw Gee ... who took the Li Chun ?

Aw Gee, ... first day of the Tiger Jieqi and no "Lichun" in the New Year. Where’s the “lichun”? Obviously if it comes every February 4th it has to be here somewhere.

Ok, I’m being silly. It’s time for Chinese New Year – so why not have some fun? If you’re near any Chinatown worthy of the name, you’ll hear fireworks and see dragons dancing in the streets.

This year Chinese New Year – determined on a lunar calendar – falls on February 9th. That lunar calendar was established under Emperor Huang Ti – in 2697 BC. It is believed to be the oldest consistent chronological record in history – about 4702 years – and marks Chinese festivals and astrology against their solar calendar, which, arguably, is as old.

That’s right, the Chinese also used a solar calendar which, until October 1582, was more accurate than our own. In their system, Tiger Jieqi is one of 24 Jieqi, or solar months, whose continuous use since the Han dynasty (206 BC) is a known fact.

The 24 Jieqi designate earth’s location in its annual orbit. First day of Tiger Jieqi is traditionally the first day of the solar year; however, in 1912, China standardized to the Gregorian calendar.

“Li chun” is the Beginning of Spring marked by the sun being mid-Aquarius on a solar cycle. This year starts a "widow year", when solar spring falls a week before the lunar year – thus it is a year without “Li Chun”. A year of bad karma for those who would marry, or engage in any action of lasting importance – a version of our Friday the 13th, only it lasts a lunar year.

Under Mao’s “Cultural Revolution”, feudalistic traditions – China’s superstitions were denounced and major elements of its heritage destroyed. It was the second time a leader had tried to erase Chinese history – the first, some 2500 years ago, burned all the books and so lost to history the origins of Chinese culture. Though society evolves, ancient knowledge remains in customs.

How significant was the book burning? In the west, a lunar calendar, found in the Semitic city of Elba (Syria), dates from 2600 BC and is basically identical to the Chinese – Chaldeans, Semites of Iraq and Iran – are kinsmen of those who gave us the bible.

Though there are sites such as Stonehenge, solar calenders, like sun based religion, first appeared in association with the founding of cities – solar calenders are the product of fixed structures, so infer an origin in 3760 BC, year one in the 5765 year Jewish calendar, when Sumerians occupied Ur, which is on the path followed by Terah (Ge 11) from Ur of the Chaldeans (astronomers),

Coincidently, the earliest known writing, cuneiform, appears around 3700 BC – Chinese tradition holds that the “Yellow Emperor” who established Chinese culture, introduced both writing and the calendar, came from the west. It is easy to consider a linear history, with origins in Ur, which tracks to China through someone like our Terah – one who established a cultural dynasty.

Speaking of solar calendars – the Semite, Mayan and Chinese calendars have an accuracy which rivals the current Gregorian. In our system, the Mayan begins October 15th 3374 BC.

A bit of humor, or mystic significance, Pope Gregory XIII, namesake of our Gregorian calendar, decreed October 4th 1582 would be followed by October 15th 1582 – only 80 years after first contact with Mayan civilization. The ides of October ... exactly 4955 years apart.

Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar serve as the basis the order of both years and months within Chinese astrology; where that which rules the year hides in the heart of those born that year – our personality traits reflect animal influence.

Not that anyone today is superstitious, but: If you plan to marry, and wish it to last, it might be wise to follow the Chinese custom, and avoid marriage in a “widow year”

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