Monday, 19 January 2009

Li Chun, 2009

I'm no fengshui student, let alone an amateur fengshui practitioner, but when my aunt suddenly asked me last night about the coming Li Chun in 2009, I had to whip out my copy of Joey Yap's book, The Ten Thousand Year Calendar.

Li Chun is the time of the year when we Chinese observe the coming of Spring. It's a throwback to our ancestral practices in China. Like most overseas Chinese, we still observe the traditional Chinese customs, especially those that are still considered practical enough to practise. At Li Chun, my aunt would want to glue red paper with auspicious Chinese characters on the family rice bucket to signify abundance and luck for the coming Year Of The Ox.

Interestingly, Li Chun is one of three Chinese customs I know that falls on more or less the same dates every year. The other two are, of course, Cheng Beng and Tung Chek. There is a general misconception that the Chinese follow the lunar calendar. However, it's not true. Actually, we follow the solar calendar and Li Chun marks not only the beginning of Spring but is also considered as the official start of the New Year. That's why Li Chun always falls on the same date, the fourth of February.

commentThe first is, of course, the Winter Solstice or Tung Chek, which is celebrated with the glutinous rice balls in a light sugar syrup. Tung Chek is normally on 22 Dec every year unless it is a leap year when the observance is pushed to 21 Dec, like in 2008.

Similarly, Li Chun falls on a fixed date in the solar calendar. You just need to count 44 or 45 days from the Winter Solstice and there you have it, Li Chun. It marks the Coming Of Spring. This year, Li Chun will fall on 4 Feb 2009.

</!--->So why did I still have to whip out the Joey Yap book if Li Chun will be on 4 Feb 2009? It's because I needed to know the exact time when Li Chun starts: 00:51am, says the book. So I suppose my aunt will only be gumming the Chinese auspicious characters on our rice bucket at about 1am in the morning of 4 Feb. Here's what I wrote about Li Chun one year ago.

(Perhaps I should also add that Cheng Beng falls 60 days after Li Chun. It's either on 4 Apr or 5 Apr, depending on whether or not there is a leap day (29 Feb) in the Gregorian calendar. Similarly, count 321 days after Li Chun and it will be Tung Chek. Again, depending on the extra leap day in the Gregorian calendar, it's either on 21 Dec or 22 Dec.)

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