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.
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.