Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Leap September and Occupy Central in Hong Kong

Leap September and Occupy Central in Hong Kong

If you’ve observed the Chinese Lunar Calendar, you may realize that there are 7 “leap months” every 19 years.  In 2014, we have a rare leap month of September.  How rare?  The last was 182 years ago, i.e. 1832, and the next being 2109, i.e. 95 years from now.  If you have a baby to be born in the leap month of Lunar September (October 24 – November 22), he or she would have to live to the age of 95 in order to celebrate a real birthday.

How Does a Leap Month Occur?

In China’s Lunar Calendar, Otsuki months has 30 days, Satsuki 29 days, 12 months a year of 354 days or 355 days, running short of about 11 days comparing to a normal calendar year3 years down, there will be a short of about one month. In the long term, there will be days of confused timing and strange phenomenon. To solve this problem, the intercalary” approach is being used. i.e. to add one month to that year, and that added month is called intercalary month or leap month.  Hence the leap year will have 13 months.  2014 is one of such leap years and has two Lunar Septembers.

How is the leap month being determined?

The Lunar Calendar has 24 solar terms, the odd number as "jie-qi", even as "zhong-qi." The odd and even appear alternately every 15 days.

According to regulations, each ordinary Lunar month must have a combination of jie-qi and zhong-qi. Only those months lacking one will be defined as the Leap Month.  For example, in 2014, Lunar September has only one solar term, and the next one falls on the 1st of Lunar October, hence September becomes a leap month, and there will be two Septembers in the Lunar Calendar.

In fact, there is scientific explanation for the rare occurrence of leap September. It is understood that due to the Earth's perihelion at different speeds and movement, the possibility of leap month occurs toward winter is very small.

According to statistics, the Lunar March, April, May, June, July has more occurrences. Leap November only occurred once in 1650, leap December and January had never happened.

Occupy Central - September 2014

The Implications of a Rare Leap September

Metaphysicians believe, "Chinese people are traditionally scared of rare phenomenon”, hence many seniors give red packets to their young family members as a means of safeguarding.

Mid Autumn Festival usually occurs in September of western calendar. However 2014 Mid Autumn falls on September 8th which is the earliest in the recent 38 years.  Why?  Due to a leap September.  The leap September also induces two Chung Yeung (double-nine) Festival.  According to tradition, people will only celebrate the first one and not the one on the leap month.  

Some Chinese believe if you were born in a leap month, and if that leap month occurs again ever in your life, you should go buy gold and that will bring you great fortune.

Many believe leap September brings disasters and political instability.  Believe it or not, ‘Occupy Central’ was kicked off on September 28 (September 5 in Lunar Calendar), although not in the Leap September.  I was forced to work from home yesterday, due to the road blocks.  Many shops in Central, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Tsimshatsui were forced to close.  It’s really a great threat to the general public of Hong Kong. Well, no one knows how long this is going to last!

Others believe political instability may not be due to a leap September, it could be the effect of the year of Horse and Goat.  Looking back, China’s Cultural Revolution happened in 1966 (Horse) and Hong Kong’s Riot happened in 1967 (Goat).  Will you consider it as coincidence or superstition?

Hong Kong Travel Blog - Leap September and Occupy Central