by tonytran2015 (Melbourne, Australia).
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When is Lunar New Year? (Khi nào là Tết Âm Lịch?)
To many Western and Vietnamese people, it is hard to tell when East Asian Lunar New Year (Tết Âm Lịch in Vietnamese) will come.
This blog gives an easy answer to that question.
1. The time for East Asian Lunar New Year.
The New Year begins with a New Moon. Each Lunar month span from one New Moon to the next one.
The month enclosing the December Solstice time (in December 21st) is defined to be the second last Lunar month of the year.
After that is one last month of the year and then comes the New Year Festival.
The rule gives people adequate time (more than one Lunar month) to prepare for the festival.
2. Example for 2018.
On the Solar New Year for 2018, the Moon was full. It was the 15th day of some Lunar month. Ten nights prior to that was the December Soltice (on December 21st). That night was the 5th night of that some Lunar month. That Lunar month is defined to be the second last (11th) month of the Lunar year. So the Solar New Year night was the 15th night of the 11th Lunar month.
Therefore the beginning of last Lunar month of the year is around Jan. 14th, while Lunar New Year is 29.5 days after that and is around Feb. 12th of 2018.
3. Tết Nguyên Đán and Tết Nguyên Tiêu.
The first New Moon in each Lunar year is called “Tết Nguyên Đán” in Vietnamese and the Full Moon following it is called “Tết Nguyên Tiêu” (many Vienamese don’t know the words “Tết Nguyên Tiêu”), or more commonly “Lễ Hội Rằm Tháng Giêng”.
Ancient Chinese historical texts made many references to (yearly) First Full Moon Festivals but it is very hard to find any mention of (yearly) First New Moon Festivals.
So Chinese people have been celebrating the yearly Festivals of First Full Moon (with Moon lit nights). When and why the Festivals of First New Moon (with dark, stars lit nights) became more celebrated than the Festivals of First Full Moon is an interesting question.
It is seen in the following two figures that at Lunar New Year, the bright star Leo Regulus crosses the meridional plane near to midnight. At First Full Moon Festival, Leo Regulus crosses the meridional plane about 1 hour before midnight while the Full Moon crosses the meridional plane at midnight.
Figure: Stars in tropical zone for beginners (Tropical zone). Click to enlarge figure.
Figure 2: Table of 20 brightest +2 stars in order of appearance.
4. Neighbouring countries may have their Lunar New Years differing by one month.
a. Soltice time can be accurately determined by watching the direction of the setting (or rising) Sun. When the azimuth angle of the setting Sun is plotted for consecutive days near solstice time it shows an increase then decrease (or the other way around). The time for the turn-around is the accurately determined solstice time. Solstice time is a global event and is the same for all locations on Earth.
b. New Lunar month begins on the day preceeding the night with the first view of a thin crescent on the trailing side of the Moon (an initial New Moon.). New Lunar Month is a local event. The beginnings of new Lunar months differ for different locations on different longitude of the Earth.
c. It is rare occasions but we can sometimes observe that one country A begins its New Moon just before solstice while its neighbour B on the next time zone begins its New Moon just after solstice.
Therefore for the next Lunar month, country A is still in Lunar month 11 while its neighbour B is on is already in Lunar month 12.
Consequently country B has its Lunar New Year one Lunar month ahead of country A.
d. The months in these two countries will get synchronized again when the astronomical event marking Lunar month 2 falls into the Lunar months of both countries.
Example: Vietnamese (time zone +7) Lunar New Year in 1984 was earlier than Chinese (time zone +8) New Year by one Lunar month.
5. Neighbouring countries may also have their Lunar New Years differing by one day.
New Lunar month begins on the day preceeding the night with the first view of a thin crescent on the trailing side of the Moon (an initial New Moon.). New Lunar Month is a local event. The beginnings of new Lunar months differ for different locations on different longitude of the Earth.
It is rare occasions but we can sometimes observe that one country A see no Moon for the night while its neighbour B on the next time zone sees a New Moon just before Sunrise.
Therefore for the next whole Lunar month, country A is behind its neighbour B by one Lunar calendar day.
If this happens at the end of a Lunar year, the Lunar New Year day of country A will be behind the Lunar New Year day of country B by one day.
Example: Vietnamese (time zone +7) Lunar New Year in 2007 was earlier than Chinese (time zone +8) New Year by one day.
. tonytran2015, Simple-determination-of-east-asia-lunisolar-new-year , posted on 2017 January 19th.
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