Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wait a minute! It’s not February!

One of the things about living in another country is that some things you’d expect to be the same are different from back home. Two of these events occur this week.

Today is what is called either Chinese Valentine’s Day or Chinese Lover’s Day. This occurs each year on July 7th. Now you’re probably thinking that I’ve gone completely off the rocker, because today is clearly August 11, 2005. But it’s also July 7, 94. The July 7 part comes from the lunar calendar which is aligned to the 28 day lunar cycle. That’s why you get Chinese New Year sometime in January of February depending, literally, on the phase of the moon. The 94 part comes from the Republic of China having been officially founded in 1912, or year 1 on the Republican calendar.

In everyday life, most people follow the Western calendar for months and days. For the year, it’s a bit more common to see the Republican year being used, though the Western year is also fairly commonly used. For most of the traditional holidays, the lunar calendar is still primarily used. Since most people use the Western calendar, this means that there’s a bit confusion about exactly what dates holidays fall on each year. Some people celebrate their birthday on the lunar date, some celebrate on the Western date, or some celebrate both. As for Valentine’s Day, both the western and Chinese version are celebrated by most people.

The other holiday this week is Father’s Day which is celebrated on August 8 (on the Western calendar). Mother’s Day is celebrated on the same day as in the West, but Father’s Day is different. There’s a good reason for that though. The date of August 8 in Chinese is 八月八日 (8 Month 8 Day, pronounced ba yue ba ri), and can be abbreviated as å…«å…« (88, pronounced baba) which sounds similar to 爸爸 which is also pronounce baba (though in different tone), and is the Chinese word for Dad. This is fine with me, since the Western Father’s Day is about a week after my birthday, so this spreads things out a bit.

So Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Father’s Day!

3 thoughts on “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

  1. The lovers’ holiday is the same holiday that the Japanese celebrate as “tanabata.” They do it on 7/7 though, and also moved it to the western 7/7.

    At least Taiwan was only founded once, presumably 🙂 Japanese dates got all screwy when the Syowa emperor died and the year-name all changed. I was born in Syowa 45, and now it’s Heisei 17. How old am I? Well, to know that you have to know when the emperor died. 😛 (He died in 1989. 1/1/1989 was 1/1/Syowa64, but then on 1/8/89 it flipped to 1/8/HeiseiGanNen, so yep, that year has two names for the two parts. GanNen is 元年 the first year, after that it goes to normal ï¼’å¹´ etc.)

    Both Western and Japanese years are commonly used. The national budget and all that official stuff? Japanese year.

    Most kids in school now are all born totally within Heisei so that part is getting easier again.


  2. I presume you meant to write “At least the ROC was only founded once…” because at the time, Taiwan was a Japanese colony. That’s one of the arguments against the ROC governing Taiwan, because Taiwan was part of imperial China before the Japanese invaded, so the argument goes, why should it have been returned to a ROC government later. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that logic, and it makes no sense as an argument in favor of PRC governance which in my opinion has less claim than the ROC.


  3. Yeah, I was imprecise. I just meant, the thing that started the non-West year counting, isn’t something based on people’s lifespans, so it might not change anytime soon. (Though I suppose if the governments situation changes, it would, come to think of it.)

    I agree that argument doesn’t seem to favor PRC over ROC. IC “owned” it, Japan stole it, IC got deposed in favor of two “child” governments (and ROC was first there anyway) so saying that PRC inherits all from IC just ‘cuz they had more area, doesn’t make sense, to me.

    But hey, a lot of those talks don’t make sense to me. 🙂


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