Category Archives: Date Selection

Date Selection

The Chinese Calendars

The Chinese Solar and Lunar Calendars

Am I a Horse or a Goat? This is very popular question encountered especially during the Chinese New Year talks on the luck of the various Chinese zodiac animals.

Why? The calendar that we use today is known as the Gregorian or Western calendar. This is the one where the new year starts on the 1st Jan. Chinese astrology obviously do not make use of this calendar. Instead it uses the Chinese calendar. Unfortunately for us, there are two Chinese Calendars. One is called the Chinese Solar Calendar (this is tied closely to the rotation of the Earth around the Sun) while the other is the Chinese Lunar Calendar (this is based on the moon cycle).

The Chinese Solar calendar is also known as the Farmer’s Calendar as it was first developed during the Xia Dynasty to regulate farming. The solar starts at the beginning of spring (also known as Li Cun) and falls on either the 4th or 5th of February each year.

The Chinese Lunar Calendar is based on the moon’s cycle. The starting date for each year can vary between late January and Late February, The Chinese New Year celebration is based on the calendar and this explain why the festival is celebrated on different days in Jan or Feb every year.

Pure lunar calendars like the ones use in Islamic countries using the moon solely for timekeeping. Unfortunately 12 months of moon cycles (29.53059 to be exact) do not equate to 365 days (time it takes for the earth to circle around the sun). Thus a moon year is shorter than a solar year.

This can be terribly confusing and the ancient Chinese choose to synchonize the Chinese Solar Salendar with the Chinese Solar Calendar by throwing in an extra “moon” or month now and then in to the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This is why we have and extra leap month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

Back to the question on zodiac signs.

In 2015, the Chinese Solar year of the Goat starts on the 4th of Feb while the Chinese Lunar year of the Goat starts on the 19th of Feb.

Obviously if you are born after the year starts you are a Goat. If born before you are a Horse.

But which calendar do you use?

Most Chinese Astrology Systems including the 12 Zodiac Animals and Zi Wei Dou Shu uses the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

BaZi on the other hand uses the Chinese Solar Calendar. Most most Feng Shui and Date Selection systems however uses the Chinese Solar Calendar.

So the next time someone ask you whether you are a Horse or a Goat (or any two consecutive zodiac signs) you can answer more intelligently by asking him what system he is using.

Now a word about the Chinese hour. Luckily for us it is quite straight forward.

In the Gregorian Calendar, each day is made of 24 hours of 60 minutes each. In both the Chinese Calendar system, each day is made up of 12 hours of 120 minutes called “Shi Shen”. For example the “first Chinese hour” called “Zi Shi” runs between 11 PM and 1 AM. The second called “Chou Shi” runs from 1 AM to 3 AM and so on.

Since most Chinese astrology systems uses the same Chinese hour, a person born between 11 PM and 1 AM is considered born during the “Zi Shi”, regardless of the system that we are using!

Feng Shui: Frequently Asked Questions 2

In my line of work, in addition to Feng Shui, I do get asked a lot of questions of Chinese astrology. Most are related to the Chinese 12 Animal Zodiac and Ba Zi or the Eight Characters. On the 12 Animal Zodiac side many especially those born in January and February are often confused over their animal sign.

On the Ba Zi side, the most common confusion is over their element. The birth time can also be a real cracker especially if the birth time is very close to on direction on the boundary between two birth hours. Which birth hour should you use to plot your birth chart? Find out how practitioners tackle this problem.

Am I a Cat or a Rat?

The 12 Animal Zodiac

The 12 Animal Zodiac

The Cat is not a member of the Chinese 12 Animal Zodiac. The closest resemblance to the Cat is the Tiger. However the Tiger is a couple of years apart from the Rat and it is unlikely you will mix them up. Confusion can arises between animals of the consecutive Zodiac e.g. between the Rat and the Ox or between the Rooster and the Dog, if you are born in January or February.

Let me explain. The Chinese Lunar New Year does not begin on the 1st Jan. Instead it begins sometime between late January and late February. For example, the Chinese Lunar year began on the 31st Jan in 2014. In the previous year, 2013, it began on the 10 February.

This year 2014 is the year of the Horse. However you are a Horse only if you are born on the 31st January or later. If you are born earlier say on the 28th January 2014, your Chinese Zodiac sign is Snake, the previous animal in the Chinese Zodiac.

To find out your real animal sign, you need to find out the day the Chinese Lunar year began on your year of birth. You can do this by using a 10000 year calendar or one of the tools on the Internet.

My mother tells me that I am Metal element person but now you tell me that I am Wood element. Which one of you is right?

We both are! There is an element associated with your year of birth. For example 2014 is known as the year of the Wood Horse. Your mother is most likely referring to this element (of the year).

Likewise there is an element associated with your day of birth and it is commonly known as the Day Master. The element may or may not be the same as the element of the year.

In the Chinese Astrology system Ba Zi, much of the analysis is done centered around the element of the Day Master. So if you speak to a Chinese astrologer he is most likely refer to this element (of the day).

And that is why you get two different answers.

Is the exact time of birth important in Chinese Astrology?

Most systems of Chinese Astrology such as Ba Zi or Zi Wei Dou Shu, uses your birth hour or “Shi Shen” to draw your birth chart. For example the hours between 11 AM and 1 PM is known as “Zi” hour, the hours between 1 PM and 3 PM as “Chou” hour and so on.

Therefore your birth chart and the subsequent reading is the same whether you are born at 11:28 PM or 12:46 AM. Both the times are within the same birth hour or “Shi Shen”.

The problem comes when you are born at the interval or very close to the interval between two birth hours. For example at 12.58 PM or 1:02 PM. Which do you use? How certain are you that the doctor who delivered you, wrote your birth time correctly. Maybe his watch was fast and you were actually born at 12:58 PM!

The solution is quite simple actually. Print both the charts and figure out which by asking questions and mapping real events to the chart.

When exactly does the Chinese New Year begins?

There are two Chinese Calendars.

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The more popular one is the Chinese Lunar Calendar that marks the start of the Chinese New Year. This calendar is based on the moon’s movement and the start date every year varies between late January and late February.

The other Chinese calendar is the Chinese Solar Calendar which is based on the sun’s movement. It is also known as the Farmers Calendar as it was first used to regulate farming activities. Like the Western calendar is has 365 days more or less in a year but unlike the Western calendar it starts on or around the 4th Feb every year. The start of the Chinese Solar year is also known as “Li Cun” of Start of Spring.

Chinese Astrology systems such as the 12 Animal Zodiac and Zi Wei Dou Shu employs the Chinese Lunar Calendar while Ba Zi and Feng Shui systems tend to use the Chinese Solar Calendar.

The Lunar Calendar is also known as the Yin Calendar while the Solar Calendar is also known as the Yang Calendar. Together they are often referred to as the Yin Yang or Luni-solar Calendar.

In the next segment, I will touch on questions related to “Sha” or “killing energy”.

When does the Real Chinese New Year Starts?

I understand that this year 2014, Chinese New Year falls on the 31st Jan. But a friend just said that the “Real” New Year falls on the 4th Feb. Which is correct?

Both of you are.

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You see, the Chinese have two calendars. There are the Chinese Lunar and Chinese Solar Calendar. In 2014 the Chinese Lunar New Year falls on the 31st Jan while the Chinese Solar New Year falls on the 4 Feb 2014.

The Chinese Lunar year is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar (also known as the Yin Calendar). It is based on the moon’s cycle around the earth. The Chinese Solar year is based on the Chinese Solar or Xia Calendar (also known as the Yang Calendar). The solar calendar is based on the earth’s cycle around the sun.

It may interest you to know that most (but not all) Chinese festivals are based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

The Chinese Solar calendar was reputedly devised during the Xia Dynasty (over 2000 years ago) primarily to regulate farming activities. This is why it is also called the Farmer’s calendar.

Have you heard of “Li Chun. Also know as “Coming of Spring” it marks the start of the Chinese Solar Year.

Chinese Hour or Shi Shen

One Western hour is 60 mins long. One Chinese hour (also known as a Shi Shen) is however 120 mins long. There are therefore 12 Chinese hours or Shi Shen in one day as oppose to 24 Western hours in a day.

Each Shi Shen is given a name and is associated with an animal sign. The 12 Shi Shen’s are:-

Shi Shen Time Animal Sign
Zi 11:00 PM to 01:00 AM Rat
Chou 01:00 AM to 03:00 AM Ox
Yin 03:00 AM to 05:00 AM Tiger
Mao 05:00 AM to 07:00 AM Rabbit
Chen 07:00 AM to 09:00 AM Dragon
Si 09:00 AM to 11:00 AM Snake
Wu 11:00 AM to 01:00 PM Horse
Wei 01:00 AM to 03:00 PM Goat
Shen 03:00 AM to 05:00 PM Monkey
You 05:00 AM to 07:00 PM Rooster
Xu 07:00 AM to 09:00 PM Dog
Hai 09:00 AM to 11:00 PM Pig

For example, the time period between 11 PM and 1 AM is known as the “Zi” Shi Shen or “Rat” hour.

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In the olden days executions were normally carried out during the “Wu” hour between 11 AM and 1 PM when the yang energy is the strongest, and able to ward away any yin energy.

Making an appointment to meet is however very tricky. Let’s say we make an appointment to meet at the “Xu” Shi or hour. It is a 120 mins window! Should I arrive at 7 PM, 8 PM or 9 PM. Or 7:30 PM or 8:15 PM. All of them are technically within the “Xu” hour window!