August 11th, 2005

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 八八 (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!