The beginning of the Chinese astrological year is more complex than one would imagine at first, the main problem being that there isn't a consensus between astrologers, instead there are three main points of view about the issue:
- One is based on lunar months, and according to it the Chinese astrological year change coincides with the celebration of Chinese New Year.
- Other one says that the new Chinese year for astrological purposes is between 3 and 5 February depending on the year (the beginning of the Chinese month of the tiger).
- Finally, a third one argues that the right one to make the astrological calculations regarding which sign somebody is, should be the date of winter solstice (typically December 22).
Then I thought it would be a good idea to try to explain the issue in a simple and easy to understand way. It's something that really can change the compatibility between two persons if any of them was born between December 22th and mid February next year.
Chinese New Year party (according to lunar months)
It is best to start with the easy thing first, this is when the Chinese celebrate the New Lunar Year, this is exactly the second new moon after the winter solstice (December 22), for example, in 2014 the day of Chinese New Year was January 31, and in the coming years will fall on the following dates:
- 19/2/2015: Year of the Wood Goat
- 08/02/2016: Year of the Fire Monkey
- 28/01/2017: Year of The Fire Rooster
- 16/02/2018: Year of The Earth Dog
- 05/02/2019: Year of The Earth Pig
- 25/01/2020: Year of the Metal Rat
In the West, most authors have used this date until not so long ago to define if a person belongs to one sign or other, and there is a good part of astrologers worldwide who continue to take this date, in fact in China most people use this date to say if they belong to one sign or another.
One could say that this is the most popular and mainstream way of doing it.
Then... why the fuss with the beginning of the Chinese year?
Because there are many other authors and astrologers who do not agree with that, they say the day of Chinese Lunar New Year just depends on the Chinese calendar, but not on astrological significant ephemerides; traditionally that date was established as turn of the year as we established January 1st on our Gregorian Calendar, so both dates are said to not have an astrological significance, but simply a practical use.
With a close example would be like if in Western astrology someone say that the sign of Capricorn begins on January 1st because that is the first day of the year according to our calendar, and then an astrologer would retort "no, the sign of Capricorn begins December 22 by the position of the Sun relative to the Earth and stars".
And the month of the tiger, from where does it emerge?
It has to do with the position of the Sun relative to the Earth and stars, Chinese astrological months will come to be something like the 12 signs of the Western zodiac (Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces...), but taking as high points of the month precisely the points of transition from one sign to another according to Western Astrology.
This is best seen with an example: the month of the Tiger according to Chinese Astrology goes roughly from February 4th to March 6th, and it's said that the most noticeable point of the tiger influences is around the 20th of February, which coincides with the change of the sign Aquarius to Pisces (February 20), that is precisely where Aquarius and Pisces are felt the least because they are like making the switch from one to another.
And again, when Aquarius is at its highest influence on February 5, that's exactly when the chinese month is changing from the Ox to the tiger, in fact if one look to the characteristics of Chinese signs and months, and compare them with those of Western signs, it is seen that ones share characteristics of the others, I mean the characteristics of the Tiger are a mixture of the characteristics of Aquarius and Pisces, and so on.
Okay ... and that has to do with the start of the Chinese astrological year? o_O
Good question, which I'm afraid it hasn't a clear and irrefutable answer, hence this mess...
Basically supporters of using the Tiger month as the beginning of the Chinese year say that empirically they see it makes more sense when they take into account the characteristics of the people and the sign to which they belong, on the other hand they argue that this date coincides with the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and that somehow marks the beginning of a new year...
Well, what is a fact is that in China (and in the West) there are a large number of astrologers that use the beginning of the tiger's month to determine the sign of their customers and make astrological calculations, but then accept that social use of the Chinese Lunar New Year when telling friends or relatives which sign you belong to.
So it happens that there are several serious websites which say that this is the way to do it right, and any other way is wrong, so as I intend this site to be considered a good one I judged necessary to explain this controversy and give the users of my programs the option to select the way they prefer.
Well... done with the Tiger... and what about Winter Solstice?
There is still a third group of astrologers, somewhat a minority but respected anyway, who argue that the correct date when Chinese Year changes from one sign to another should be the winter solstice (December 22), because from that date is when the days begin to grow, and unequivocally that marks the beginning of a new annual cycle.
Besides, there are also many people who say that those who were born after the winter solstice seem to have more characteristics of the Chinese sign of the following Lunar Year than of the previous year, although this is of course subjective and many other people would disagree.
What a mess... and the conclusion of all this?
Well my opinion is that this lack of agreement on the date that separates one sign from other somewhat means that whatever it is the best method to calculate it, it is not an instant change as when you turn on or off a light bulb, but rather a gradual change as at dawn or dusk, the process of change from night to day and vice versa being maybe an hour or even two.
But hey, I do not intend to enter into polemics, just thought that this site was more complete if I addressed the issue, explained the different points of view, and wrote the programs in a way that each person can choose one option or another when doing the calculations, so that everyone can see for themselves what comes out with the different options and draw their own conclusions regarding if they belong more to a sign or another.