Ever wondered why Chinese New Year doesn’t fall on New Year’s Day? Turns out, there’s a legit reason behind it. Yes, it’s astronomy.

Here’s the thing: The Chinese calendar is a lunar calendar. So what does that mean? Well, it means the calendar is based on the orbits of the moon around the earth. If one does the math, it’ll be clear that it actually only takes the moon 27.32 days to lap the earth.

But in the case of lunar months, the measurements are from new moon to new moon, adding up to 29.5 days. The extra two days are calculated owing to the ideology that the Earth isn’t holding still in space but continues to move around the sun. The phase of the moon depends on the position of the Earth, moon, and sun.

For most of us, the calendar that’s followed happens to be the Gregorian or Western calendar, which is based on the ideology that it takes the Earth 365.24 days to orbit the sun. The fraction of a day is what’s leads to the concept of leap years.

Chinese New Year
Una niña se viste de rojo previo al Año Nuevo Chino Lunar en Bangkok's Chinatown, Thailand, Febrero 2, 2016 Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha

That said, what needs to be known is that even if the leap days are taken into consideration, it is practically impossible to fit the lunar months evenly into the solar years. This is one of the primary reasons as to why lunar and solar calendars have never synced well.

What needs to be taken into consideration is that in order to avoid the 10-day slip, an extra month was added once every two or three years. Moreover, these lunisolar calendars work out in such a way that the Hebrew New Year always falls between September and October. On the other hand, the ChineseNew Year is always celebrated in the month of January or February.

Simply put, the reason behind the difference is largely because the Gregorian calendar works itself to the earth's cycle around the sun, whereas the Chinese New Year is based around the moon.

Now, here’s a fun fact: A married daughter is often forbidden from visiting her parents’ house on the Chinese New Year, and neither do the Chinese eat porridge and meat on this day. These activities are said to bring bad luck and are hence avoided like the plague.

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