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This is Why CNY Occurs So Late This Year (2024) While It Occurred So Early Last Year

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Tired of your relatives asking you when you’re getting married or why you gained weight?

Steer the conversation away from your personal life with this intriguing fact about why Chinese New Year dates can vary.

Different Calendars

This year, CNY is late.

Like, really late – almost a whole month later than last year’s.

The first day of CNY 2024 falls on 10 February, Saturday.

Reader: Whose idea was it to put Chu Yi on a Saturday…

Well, dear reader, we have the lunar calendar to thank for that.

Reader: I’m not at all thankful. And, the what calendar?

Neither am I. And we’ll get to that later.

First and foremost, let’s talk about leap years. Every four years, we add an extra day to February. But it’s not random.

The calendar we use is known as the Gregorian or Solar calendar as it follows the sun.

The Earth takes 365.25 days to orbit the sun. So if we use 365 days a year forever, it won’t be accurate after hundreds or thousands of years.

After about 700 years, winters in the northern hemisphere that usually occur in December will take place in June instead. Ski trip for June holidays, anyone?

To prevent this chaos from happening, we add a day to February every four years.

Apart from this calendar, there are other calendars used around the world. One of them is the Lunar calendar, which follows the moon.

The Lunar Calendar

For the Lunar calendar, the time taken by the moon to go around the Earth is considered as a month.

That’s usually about 29.53 days, so you’d notice that the last day for the Lunar calendar is usually 29 or 30. 

The Lunar calendar only has about 354 days, a whopping 11 days shorter than our Gregorian calendar.

The Lunar and Gregorian calendars will differ a lot if this adds up yearly.

If we don’t do something about this, we could end up having CNY in June, July, or even in December together with Christmas.

Imagine buying CNY goodies at the same time as Christmas presents!

Syncing up the Calendars

To solve this problem, we actually use the Lunisolar calendar, which syncs the Lunar and Gregorian calendars together.

Every year, the Lunar calendar is short of 11 days. So, every three years, a month is added to the Lunar Calendar to get the two calendars to sync.

In 2023, we had two second months of the Lunisolar calendar. Because of this, everything got pushed back (and in another three years, it’ll need another push).

Hence, 2023 technically had 13 months, causing the first day of 2024 to be so late. 

This pattern repeats, so CNY will be later than usual every three years, since there was an additional month the year before. 

Other events in the Chinese calendar get pushed back too.

Last year’s hungry ghost festival started on 16 August, which is considered late. This, too, was due to the additional second month of the Lunisolar calendar.

So, now you know a fun fact you can sneak into CNY conversations to keep your relatives entertained without having to share too many personal details about your life!

At least everyone would be laughing at the blue cat instead of you.



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