Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year of the Dragon begins on Jan. 23, 2012.

Chinese Calendar

Chinese calendar has been in continuous use for centuries, which predates the International Calendar (based on the Gregorian Calendar) we use at the present day which goes back only some 425 years. The calendar measures time, from short durations of minutes and hours, to intervals of time measured in months, years and centuries, entirely based on the astronomical observations of the movement of the Sun, Moon and stars. Due to its scientific and mathematical nature, we can easily and precisely calculate backward or forward for thousands of years.

The Story about the Animals of the Year

In Chinese calendar, one of the scheme for counting years is a 12-year cycle. One counts from Year 1, 2, 3,... up to 12. Then starts over from Year 1. (This is modulo 12 in mathematics.) Instead of inventing 12 special symbols for this purpose, 12 animals are used to represent these 12 years. For instance, 2005 is the Year of the Rooster, 2006 is the Year of the Dog, and 2007 is the Year of the Boar. By this system, year's animal names are re-cycled every 12 years.

The 12 animals are:
Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar

This system is extremely practical. A child does not have to learn a new answer to the question, "How old are you?". Old people often lose track of their age, because they are rarely asked about their current age. Every one just have to remember that he or she was born in the "Year of the Dog" or whatever.