As the date draws nearer, my aunt keeps reminding me that I should tell her when exactly this year's Li Chun, the Coming of Spring,would be. "I need the exact time," she keeps saying. So finally, this morning, I caved in to her persistent reminders and whipped out my copy of Joey Yap's book, The Ten Thousand Year Calendar.
Strange, I thought to myself as I turned to the year 2010 in the book. There doesn't seem to be any mention of Li Chun on this page!
Then I remembered. We had an intercalary fifth month in the present Chinese calendar which runs from 26 Jan 2009 to 13 Feb 2010. That's why Chinese New Year will fall much later on 14 Feb 2010.
And that's also why there are two Li Chun dates in the Chinese calendar. Though the two dates for Li Chun in our westernised Gregorian calendar are the same, 4 Feb, the equivalent dates in our Chinese lunisolar calendar are different: falling on the 10th day of the first month and then on the 21st day of the 12th month.
Cool, I thought, when I noticed this. Anyway, I told her that if she wanted to prepare for Li Chun - she'd only be glueing red paper with auspicious Chinese characters on the family rice bucket but maybe, if I can successfully persuade her this year, she would also want to hang out the red cloth over the front doorway to signify the official start of the new year - then the time to do so on 4 Feb 2010 will be at 6.49am.