Hear Ye! Since 1998.
Please note: This post is at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the post may no longer be held.
Feb 05

Happy CNY?

Happy Chinese New Year. Ok, so I’m one day late.

I have to say that CNY (especially went spent in Australia) holds next to no significance for me whatsoever, which has left my parents a little flustered. “But you’re Chinese! It’s significant!” they told me. I was amused that Dad sent me an email today saying, “What, no mention of CNY on your blog?”

Growing up in a western country and knowing nothing but the Gregorian calendar is probably responsible for this. CNY is a day I have little conception of, and I’d argue, a day most overseas-born Chinese know little about as well. Ok, so everyone knows CNY was yesterday and it’s now the year of the Rooster. Perhaps you know that the year is based on a lunar calendar. But I bet most people don’t know what year it is on the Chinese calendar. (Hint: It’s not 2005.) I mean, how can you celebrate the new year, when you don’t even know what year it is? Do people even know what the Chinese calendar looks like? How about its leap years (which include leap months)?

In the western world, a new year signifies renewal (in the same manner it does for the Chinese I’m guessing). For us, a year is significant because a huge number of things in our lives are broken up into years (school, birthdays, anniversaries, etc). It’s a bit bizarre turning in a new year on the Chinese calendar when I have no conception of what the calendar is. I was born in the year of the Rooster, so it’s apparently “my year”. Again, what’s the significance? I don’t pay attention to the western zodiac, why would I pay attention to the Chinese one?

Turns out the Chinese calendar is pretty intricate. Intricate enough that a mathematician at NUS wrote a 39-page paper on it.

It’s sort of like what happens on Labour Day every year. No one celebrates anything, because no one knows what it is, except that they get the day off work.