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Year of the Tiger - Chinese New Year 2010 and Other New Year Observances

Updated on December 17, 2011

Pope Gregory XIII and His Calendar

When we speak of the New Year, the date that comes to most people's minds is January 1st the date that many of the old Roman calendars as well as the modern Gregorian and Julian calendars use as the start of the year.

For civil society most of the world follows the, now common, Gregorian Calendar that was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

The Gregorian Calendar is a solar calendar which uses the Earth's annual rotation around the Sun as its fixed reference point. This calendar is basically an update of the earlier Julian Calendar that was put in place by the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar in 45 BC.

Year of the Tiger

Sumatran Tiger in Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington
Sumatran Tiger in Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington

Like the Gregorian Calendar, the Julian Calendar is a solar calendar that attempted to track dates more precisely by tying them to a constant which is the Earth's annual rotation around the Sun.

Unfortunately, while we measure the length of a day based upon the time it takes the earth to make a one complete rotation on its axis and have been able to divide that into a constant 24 hours, the Earth's rotation around around the Sun is slightly more than 365 and one-quarter days.

While it is nearly constant, this extra quarter plus day made the division of a year into days difficult and caused problems for the Julian Calendar over time.

Leap Year Solves the Quarter of a Day Problem

Both the Julian and Gregorian Calendars attempted to adjust for the extra quarter plus portion of a day by adding an extra day to the calendar (Leap Year) periodically, the Gregorian Calendar was created to overcome problems caused by inaccuracy in the Julian Calendar calculations.

Basically, the Gregorian Calendar is more precisely aligned with the Earth's annual rotation thereby keeping the calendar better aligned with the seasons and dates constant over time.


Fireworks, a popular way to celebrate the New Year
Fireworks, a popular way to celebrate the New Year

A Common Calendar With a Common Holiday

Humans, of course are social creatures and, as such, both like to get together to celebrate and have fun as well as having a tendency to follow the crowd and do things at the same time as everyone else.

So, what better time to get together and celebrate than the start of a new year? With most of the world using the same calendar, it is a day everyone can celebrate together. Thanks to our ability to transmit television signals around the world instantly, even those who elect to spend the holiday relaxing at home with our family, we can vicariously enjoy the festivities going on in the world around us simply by turning on the TV.

Starting the New Year on January 1st is an Ancient Practice

Just because most of the world uses a common calendar in our secular and civil lives doesn't mean that this is the only calendar we have to use.

After all, a calendar is nothing more than a means of keeping track of time and events based upon some fixed reference point.

While the Gregorian solar calendar works well for most things in life, there are other calendars that serve us better when it comes to various religious and cultural aspects of our lives which are not shared by the world as a whole.

These other, usually more ancient, calendars are often based upon lunar or other cycles and all have their own starting points or date of the New Year.

Pope Gregory XIII's motivation for decreeing the new calendar was keep the dates of the Catholic Church's religious holidays such as Christmas and the feast days of saints all of which fell on specific dates, constant and not float into different seasons.

In doing so, he kept January 1st, the ancient pre-Christian Roman date, as the start of the new year.

Old Russian Orthodox Church in Novgorod, Russia
Old Russian Orthodox Church in Novgorod, Russia
Chapel in old French Fortress Lewisburg on Cape Brenton Island, Nova Scotia Canada.
Chapel in old French Fortress Lewisburg on Cape Brenton Island, Nova Scotia Canada.
Church in New England Village
Church in New England Village

Major Churches Start Their Liturgical Year on Different Dates

However, for the Roman Catholic and major Protestant Christian churches, the religious new year is not January 1st (although this is a Holy Day celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in the Roman Catholic Church) according to the Church's liturgical calendar which is the first day of Advent which is the first Sunday following the Feast of St. Andrew which is celebrated on November 30th.

Thus, the date of the start of the New Year in the Church's liturgical calendar varies from year to year but is related to a specific date on the solar calendar.

In the Eastern Orthodox Churches and in many countries of eastern Europe, parts of the Middle East and parts of North Africa, the older Julian Calendar is still used in religious and cultural life.

For the Julian Calendar, like the Gregorian Calendar, the New Year is celebrated on January 1st. However, because of discrepancies in the way dates are determined in these two solar based calendars, January 1st on the Julian Calendar falls on January 14th (in 2010) on the Gregorian Calendar.

Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches also have a separate liturgical calendar in which their religious New Year begins on September 1st (according to the Julian Calendar).

For the Jewish Calendar the New Year, known as Rosh Hashanah, begins on the first day of Tishrei which is the seventh month of the Jewish Calendar.

According to WikiPedia, Rosh Hashanah is one of 4 Jewish observances referred to as New Year but, because it marks the start of the year for many Jewish civil and religious events, it is usually referred to as the Jewish New Year.

Rosh Hashanah always falls 163 days after the first day of the Jewish holiday of Passover which occurs on the fifteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan. However, since the Jewish calendar is a lunar/solar calendar rather than a solar calendar like the Gregorian Calendar, both Passover and Rosh Hashanah tend to float in relation to dates on the Gregorian Calendar. Passover usually occurs between mid-March and mid-April and Rosh Hashanah between September 5th and October 5th on the Gregorian Calendar.

(For further discussion on variations between lunar and solar calendars and the determining of days and dates see my Hubs on Why the Date of Easter Changes Each Year, Chinese New Year and Holidays - The Origins of Halloween.)

Oranges a traditional Chinese New Year Fruit symbolizing abundance and happiness
Oranges a traditional Chinese New Year Fruit symbolizing abundance and happiness
Chinese Dragon
Chinese Dragon
Traditional Red Envelope used for Lai See Gifts
Traditional Red Envelope used for Lai See Gifts

Chinese New Year 2010 - Year of the Tiger

While the start of the liturgical year in Eastern and Western Christianity is pretty much a purely religious observance for Christians and Rosh Hashanah a major religious and social holiday whose observance is generally limited to Jews, there is another New Year celebration that is increasingly being celebrated around the world and that is commonly known as Chinese New Year.

The Chinese New Year is a fifteen day celebration that begins with the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar. Like many other calendar systems used at various times and places, the Chinese calender relies heavily on the moon in determining months and dates. Because of this, dates in the Chinese calendar do not correspond closely with those of the Gregorian calendar.

The Chinese New Year begins with the new moon and ends fifteen days later with the full moon. The new moon occurs when the un-illuminated or dark side of the moon is facing earth and the moon is not visible in the sky. The full moon occurs fifteen days later as a bright, round circle in the night sky.

While many in China and elsewhere use a system of continuously numbered years from the start of the Yellow Emperor's reign some 4700 years ago, the most common way of referencing years is the traditional twelve year cycle consisting of names of animals in the Chinese zodiac as follows:













The Chinese year corresponding to the year 2010 (or year 4708 according to Chinese reckoning) will be the Year of the Tiger and will begin on February 14th according to the Gregorian Calendar.

The growing importance of China and east Asia in world affairs combined with extensive migration from China and East Asia for the past century and a half, which has given rise to large Chinese and Asian communities in many parts of the world, coupled with growing tourism into and out of East Asia has made the Chinese New Year celebration known and celebrated around the world.

Also, since the Chinese New Year, like the January 1st New Year, is more cultural than religious it is easier for outsiders to join in the festivities. And who doesn't like a good party and a fifteen day one at that?

Of course there are many other religions and ethnic groups that have their own traditional calendars each with it own New Year and associated customs.

A good place to discover many of these is India, a historic crossroads that has become home to many different peoples and groups. Fellow Hubber Cashmere has written an excellent Hub, In India the New Year does NOT start in January, describing these celebrations.

The Venetian in Las Vegas decked out for Chinese New Year
The Venetian in Las Vegas decked out for Chinese New Year | Source

Chinese New Year in Las Vegas

Caesar's Palace
Caesar's Palace | Source
Flamingo | Source
The Venetian during the day
The Venetian during the day | Source
Tree at Restaurant in Flamingo decorated with fruit and Lai See Gifts in traditional Red Envelopes
Tree at Restaurant in Flamingo decorated with fruit and Lai See Gifts in traditional Red Envelopes | Source
Flamingo - Red Envelope associated with the giving of Lai See Gifts
Flamingo - Red Envelope associated with the giving of Lai See Gifts | Source
Its a HubMob!
Its a HubMob! | Source

Year of the Tiger

Tiger at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson
Tiger at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson


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    • cashmere profile image


      9 years ago from India

      You have explained the concept of the calenders world wide really well.

      Thanks for the link to my hub Chuck.

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image


      9 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      Great hub. Those are some stunning pictures, as well as good information. thanks for sharing.

    • Tomono profile image


      9 years ago

      I learnt a lot about New Year celebrations from this, thanks for posting. In Japan we follow the western calendar but we place more emphasis on the Chinese Zodiac. I'm a snake and think it suits me perfectly!

    • figment profile image

      Karli Duran 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Enjoyed the Hub!

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      9 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Wow, Great Hub! Very thorough and complete! I think that you did a great job!

      My wife is South-East Asian (Cambodia) and we celebrate 3 New Years Traditions:

      American/International (January 1),

      Chinese New Year (Today, as a matter of fact! My Zodiac is the "Snake").

      And Cambodia has it's own New Year (April 13 or 14, depending on Lunar Year).

      Thanks for the Great Hub!

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      matt - sorry that you are so easily offended.

      I used the word "civil" to make the point that, despite the fact that the Gregorian calendar was created by Pope Gregory XIII for use by members of the Roman Catholic Church to keep track of and observe together Holy Days and other dates of importance to the Church, that the Gregorian calender has now been widely accepted by people and institutions outside of the Roman Catholic Church as a standard for tracking and planning time.

      If you had bothered to read further you would have found that I discussed other calendars and their use by specific groups in the modern world.

      My purpose in writing this was to explain the evolution, uses and differences in calendars and how they are used to measure the passage of time through the Earth's annual trip around the Sun. It was not my intent to classify people or to comment on the manners and mores of those who use or don't use the various calendars in existence.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I can't get past the second paragraph mentioning "vivil society" following the Gregorain calendar.

      Are you seriously suggesting that all who do not follow this calendar are not civil? or not part of a civil society?

      Please consider hwo you write and the kind of statements you make.

    • mack990 profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      quit impressive, nice to read

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 

      9 years ago from Jaipur


      Chinese calendar has many similarities with Indian calendar. India has both lunar and solar calendars. many of the customs in Chinese New Year eve has similarities with Indian culture.

      Thanks for an informative hub.

      Jyoti Kothari

    • sweta.srinivas profile image


      9 years ago

      A cool read. Somehow it reminded me of this song called, "Temple of the King" by Rainbow.

      Dhawkins11, you can just google it out or better still check this link:

    • dhawkins11 profile image


      9 years ago

      I can honestly say I know nothing about the chinese new year, and the year of the [animal]. This hub was really good as I like to learn something new every day. I wonder what animal my birth year was?

    • kephrira profile image


      9 years ago from Birmingham

      the year of the Tiger sounds exciting, I hope this next year lives up to its name!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      That was very informative, thanks.

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 

      9 years ago from Hong Kong

      thanks for the great read.

    • pinkhawk profile image


      9 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

      wow this is loaded with great information! thank you very much for sharing! :)... Since this Feb 14 (happy valentines!)is the Chinese New Year--- Kung Hei Fat Choi Sir! :)

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      Informative and well written, an absolute pleasure to read.

      Thank you for posting links to other hubs of similar topics

    • macsmith85 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great to see your hubs!!!! You provide a knowledgable information about tiger!!!! Thank You

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      gud information about tiger conservation

    • IdeaMorphist profile image


      9 years ago from Chicagoland

      So much information! Fantastic!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      All these new year symbols mean something in our culture , that is we should show respect towards these animals , so if china really wants to respect their culture , they should ban medicines based on tigers , which affects them not only in china but also in other countries


    • Crystalgemt profile image


      9 years ago

      Great information about Chinese New Year. Love it. Thanks!

    • antonrosa profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Very interesting indeed.

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 

      9 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      Holy cow - that's a lot of information! I have trouble figuring out what day of the week it is sometimes, never mind remembering all those different New Year's days LOL...great hub!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      9 years ago

      Hi! Very nice blog, enjoyable and informative.

    • Denny Saloon profile image

      Denny Saloon 

      9 years ago from Surabaya, Indonesia

      These are wonderful articles. I get a lot of information. Nice to read your articles. Great and congratulation !

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice view here!,you got all very attractive pictures!Everyone seems to know what this tiger year could be.Hoping for more good and prosperous year than last year.

    • sweet_sacrifice profile image


      9 years ago

      Hope this tiger year could be a prosperous one.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      interesting one . i like it

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What great pictures, they really are stunning, makes me want to book a flight.

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 

      9 years ago from Virginia

      Interesting hub. Thanks for your insight.

    • tal g mel profile image

      tal g mel 

      9 years ago

      Tu Bishvat==>New year of trees,I wrote hub about it...

    • Karina S. profile image

      Karina S. 

      9 years ago from USA

      Great hub, very interesting. Nice pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    • tim-tim profile image

      Priscilla Chan 

      9 years ago from Normal, Illinois

      I was born in the year of pig:)

    • stephensaldana profile image


      9 years ago from Chicago

      Good information!!! I enjoyed the whole hub tremendously. The atmosphere of celebration and enjoyment resonate throughout the whole hub. The pictures displayed are awesome. Thanks for providing the hub which is full of color, dynamism and vibrancies.

    • shellyblossom profile image


      9 years ago from Ohio

      Great information, my birthyear is 1962. I love reading about this stuff!

    • amulets profile image


      9 years ago from Singapore

      Wow! You have got quite nice pictures for chinese new year. I am always looking forward to Chinese New Year so I can clear past negative Qi and renew positive Qi for the new year in Feng Shui. Wish you the best for this Yang Metal Tiger Year!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Would it not be nice to think that in the year of the tiger - the Chinese just might try a little harder to keep their tigers alive? What is it with this rubbish about using parts of tigers as aphrodisiacs? Please...

    • mpurcell10 profile image


      9 years ago from Arkansas

      Wonderful Hub. Full of ngreat information.Thank You!

    • KeithTax profile image

      Keith Schroeder 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Very interesting article on a fascinating subject. I am going to link this on my blog as a fun article to read.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Happy Chinese new year for all of you and thanks for this informative hub.

    • Albertttt profile image


      9 years ago

      I really like your photos, especially that old church.

    • carissakaylee profile image


      9 years ago

      What an interesting read!

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Az

      dadgumit!! I was SURE this is finally the year of the dragon!!

      Two more to go :(

      cool hub!!

      love to you!!

    • Review Source profile image

      Review Source 

      9 years ago

      This hub is awesome. Thanks a lot!

    • hoov45 profile image

      Terry Hoover 

      9 years ago from Denham Springs, Louisiana

      Nice work..happy new year to you

    • I*n*v*i*c*t*u*s profile image


      9 years ago

      Quite informative, Thanks!

    • yt55500900 profile image


      9 years ago

      Pope Gregory XIII and His Calendar

    • profile image 

      9 years ago

      great hub thanks , you are so helpfull

    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen Lewis 

      9 years ago from Florida

      Very interesting hub - thanks!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      9 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Awesome, love the pictures and a fantastic article, add me as your friend. I am new and don't know how...

    • lilian_sg profile image


      9 years ago from Singapore

      interesting information!

    • Kathy Rimel profile image

      Kathy Rimel 

      9 years ago

      I really enjoyed the information and the pictures and I find it rather amazing that so many different countries divide up the days in some many different ways. Very interesting

    • T R Upshur profile image

      T R Upshur 

      9 years ago from United States

      Wow! This is amazing. I bookmarked this one so I can let the kids read it. Thanks!

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      JYOTI KOTHARI - thanks for commenting and for your information on the Indian solar and lunar calendars.


    • vrajavala profile image


      9 years ago from Port St. Lucie

      good history. next leap year is 2012

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 

      9 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi Chuck,

      Very informative and descriptive hub about both western and eastern systems of calendar.

      India also has lunar system similar to Chinese. Normaly the year begins in March- April.

      However, India has solar system in calendar too. Indian solar calendar New year begins on April 14 normally.

      Thanks and thumbs up!

      Jyoti Kothari

    • profile image

      Kit Stevens 

      9 years ago

      It's amazing how so many other things branch from this one.

    • sweetie1 profile image


      9 years ago from India

      Beautiful blog.. beautiful pics.. i like it

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I appreciate your research about the Chinese New Year. It is difficult to understand and I have not researched their history. We need to know about China, since we are in debt to the tune of trillions of dollars. I believe it happened during the Bush Administration. I hope that they don't want to come to live in the US! I don't think that most Americans could master their language of customs.

    • Carol the Writer profile image

      Carolyn Blacknall 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Excellent information! My children and I have attended several of these celebrations and enjoyed the interesting food and red envelopes of money. I recommend attending one if you can. - Carol


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