Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Solar Term - Spring Begins February 4th, 2011

Spring Begins
Solar Term Number One of Twenty Four

In the Chinese Solar Calendar, the first day of the year is marked by the Solar Term, "Spring Begins" or "Li Chun" (Han yu pin yin). It usually falls on 4th, 5th, or 6th of February. In 2011, Li Chun is on 4th of February. 

There is a little bit of non-uniformity of the use of this word as the geography of China covers a vast area. In Mongolia towards the north of China, it is still blistering cold with snow. Technically, according to, the area around 黄河, Huang He, The Yellow River and down south is the reference zone for recording this Solar Term. The three pentads (each pentad = 5 days) poem is as follows for this month:


In the first pentad, the easterly winds starts to melt the ice
In the second pentad, the ground beetles have started to move
In the third pentad, the fishes starts to move below the frozen waters

The Chinese language is wonderfully beautiful, and uses a lot of imagery to describe the meanings. As you can tell from the verse above, during this time, the earth is slowly coming to life from the frozen months of winter. 

In China, the temperature of between 10 - 22 degrees Celsius is the range for Spring.

Four Seasons

There is no better way to understand the 5 elements / processes than to experience the 4 seasons in a year. In tropical climates like Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, it is not possible to experience the four season. Do take more trips overseas to experience the seasons if you are a Feng Shui geek like me. Beyond "studying" what the 5 elements/processes are!

Using the 4 types of blossoms and plants in Chinese paintings to denote the 4 seasons is common. They are: Peach Blossom (Spring), Orchid (Summer), Chrysanthemum (Autumn) and Bamboo (Winter). 梅兰竹菊。 If you play mahjong, you will notice that these are the 4 flower tiles.

24 Solar Terms

By observing the path of the sun's shadow using a Gnomon stick, the ancient Chinese were able to design a Chinese calendar that was consistent and marked out the seasons accurately. The period of one year was divided into 24 Solar Terms, with 4 "establishment" markers to mark the beginning of each season. It helps to supplement the Lunar calendar that is based on the moon's cycle. 

3 months are assigned to each season, and the following 24 Solar Terms are created. The first pair of Chinese characters mark the beginning of the month, while the second pair of Chinese characters in the same line marks the half-way point of a month.

Calculation of Spring Begins

Formula : [Y*D+C]-L

Y = last 2 digits of the year
D = 0.2422
For the 21st century, C value = 3.87
For the 22d century C value = 4.15.
L is number of leap years 

For example: in 2058 the date of the calculation of the beginning of spring

[58 × 0.2422 +3.87] - [(58-1) / 4] = 
17-14 = 3, 
 and so Feb. 3 beginning of spring.

The following years have Li Chun day coincide with the Lunar New Year: (1645 -2800)

1704 1715 1734 1753 1772 
1810 1829 1886  
1905 1924 1943 1992 
2038 2087 
2106 2144 
2201 2220 2258 2296 
2315 2326
2410 2440 2459 2478
2535 2554 2592
2611 2630 2649 2668 2687
2706 2763 2782

The following years have Li Chun day coincide with the eve of Lunar New Year: (1645 -2800)

1647 1666
1723 1742 1780 1799
1818 1837 1848 1867
1932 1962 1981
2000 2019 2057 2076
2133 2152 2171
2239 2285
2323 2334 2353 2372 2391
2429 2448 2467
2505 2524 2543 2562 2573
2725 2744

First Day of the Year

According to, the historical records have shown that Li Chun day or Spring Begins was the day that was used for the first day of the year. The records also revealed that some even used the Winter Solstice day as the beginning of the New Year.

In the year 1912, Sun Yat Sen announced the use of the western gregorian calendar. In the year 1914, Yuan Shi Kai laid down the change that the Lunar Calendar be used for Chinese New Year, i.e. first day of the first lunar month. This has resulted in modern day confusion for those born in January or February as to which annual horoscope sign one belongs to.

The answer is simple :  the Chinese Tian Gan Di Zi (Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branch) system has always been used in the Solar Calendar and so the Li Chun day should be used for the year crossover date.