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Correlation between Mesoamerican and South Asian calendar systems

Correlation between Mesoamerican and South Asian calendar systems

The Mayan and Hindu calendars both divide history into eras, and the epochs (start date) of their current eras lie extremely closely together: August 11, 3114 BCE (Mayan) vs. 18 February, 3102 BCE (Hindu), a difference of only 12 years.

Are there any scientific theories that attempt to explain this as anything other than a coincidence? In particular, are either of the following thought possible:

  1. Both epochs represent the date of a global event (natural disaster) witnessed by ancestors to both civilizations
  2. The civilizations were in direct contact with each other (seems unlikely)
  3. The founders of the Mayan civilization migrated to the Americas from Asia at a time when the Hindu calendar was already in use (seems extremely unlikely)

I want to emphasize that I am not asking about random speculations here, which are of course easy to find on the Internet, especially in connection with the Mayan calendar. But surely, the close correlation must have been noticed before and I am interested in what others have made of it.


There are many calendar systems, many of them still in use. It is expected that the year count in any given calendar should be less than 10000: recording of dates in a universal scale don't make a lot of sense without any written records, so the calendar scales have not been in use for more than five or six thousands of years at most; and there is an incentive to keep year counts short, if only to be able to use them in everyday administration and for engraving with minimal hassle.

If you take 30 random number in the 1 to 10000 range, then it is mathematically expected that the minimum difference between any two of them will be a decade or two (this is linked with the so-called birthday paradox: if you split the 10000-year range into 500 chunks of 20 years, and take 30 uniformly random values in the range, then chances that at least two of them will fall in the same 20-year chunk will be close to 59%).

Therefore, scientifically, this is perfectly compatible with a simple coincidence, and there is nothing more to explain. In other words, trying to find an "explanation" for that match of Epoch is, by nature, un-scientific.


As much as I know, the Hindu calendar gives the date 3102 BC which is the start of Kali Yuga. I have heard that the significance of its beginning is that all the 9 grahas came in one line, which has led to catastrophe. There are many evidences given by ancient aliens theorists that south Americans were in contact with Asians. So it might be true that both calendars are actually same. But afterwards their contact might have lost so Mayan calendar does not go beyond 21 Dec 2012.


History of Precolonial Meso/South America

During the Upper Paleolithic period (ca. 50,000-10,000 BC), humans migrated to Alaska via the Bering land bridge and colonized the Americas. Genetic research has shown that all indigenous peoples of the Americas are descended from the same ancestral group except for the Arctic peoples (the Eskimo and Aleut), who descend from a second migrant wave. 2

Geography

The Americas can be divided into four major regions: North America, Central America, the Caribbean (aka the West Indies), and South America. Although Central America and the Caribbean are both part of North America, they are often discussed as separate regions. Central America denotes the part of mainland North America south of Mexico, while "the Caribbean" denotes the islands of the Caribbean Sea.

The Americas consist chiefly of sovereign nations the largest exception is Greenland, a Danish territory. Numerous Caribbean islands are also overseas territories (namely British, French, Dutch, and American).

The term Mesoamerica covers a similar-sized territory as Central America, but lies somewhat farther north specifically, Mesoamerica includes much of Mexico but excludes the southernmost Central American countries. While "Central America" is used in discussion of the present-day Americas, "Mesoamerica" is an historical term that covers the region in which the pre-colonial Mesoamerican civilizations (including the Aztec and Maya) flourished.

Impact of Colonialism

The colonial age began in 1492, with the arrival of Columbus in the Bahamas (see European Colonialism). Through a combination of violence and disease, the indigenous peoples of the Americas were decimated by the European invaders, who often formed alliances with some tribes in order to destroy others. Although the two mightiest indigenous American states (the Aztec and Inca Empires) fell within a few decades, the ensuing colonization of the Americas involved staggering violence against native peoples up to the early twentieth century. 6,7

Even when the killing finally stopped, vicious persecution continued, as social and economic roadblocks prevented many indigenous Americans from sharing in the prosperity of the nations erected upon their soil. Indigenous culture endured a massive assault, in the form of direct efforts at cultural assimilation (e.g. prohibition of traditional languages and beliefs, forced education at boarding schools) and the tides of urbanization and modern technology. Despite significant progress in rectifying these historical cruelties, the dark legacy of colonialism persists. 1,2,6

Subsistence

The pre-colonial Americas can be roughly divided into three zones according to subsistence method.

In the Americas, settled agricultural life first emerged ca. 2000 BC, in Mesoamerica and Peru (see The Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages). Over the next two millennia, it spread across the pink and green regions noted on the above map. It did not spread to the blue regions, where hunter-gatherer life continued up to modern times. 15,28,29

Urban life (civilization) developed in two regions: Mesoamerica and the central Andes (the pink regions on the above map). In regions characterized by non-urban agricultural life (the green regions), settlements did not grow large enough to be considered cities. While the populations of non-urban agricultural settlements were relatively small, the populations of hunter-gatherer groups (which dwelt in the blue regions) were usually even smaller. (The size of a hunter-gatherer group is primarily determined by the difficulty of finding food in the land it inhabits.)

Hunter-gatherer life has taken diverse forms throughout human history. Groups of hunter-gatherers may be nomadic (constantly on the move), semi-nomadic (shifting between seasonal settlements), or even permanently settled (if food is sufficiently abundant). Some hunter-gatherer societies supplemented their diets with small amounts of farming.

Culture Areas

Historical discussion of pre-colonial Mesoamerica and South America tends to be dominated by the urban civilizations of these regions (which covered the pink areas in the right-hand map provided below). For the purposes of Essential Humanities, this "urban-centric" approach is considered appropriate. Nonetheless, two general observations will be made about non-urban Meso/South America (the green and blue regions in the right-hand map).

Firstly, while large villages flourished throughout the Caribbean and southern Andean regions, the Amazonian region was home to relatively small villages this was largely due to the difficulty of rainforest farming, which requires constant slash-and-burn agriculture to enrich the nutrient-weak soil. The Caribbean region encompasses the islands of the Caribbean Sea, as well as some territory around the coast (including the northern Andes). The Amazonian region, which covers Brazil plus some neighbouring territory, included pockets of hunter-gatherers (many of whom fished the Amazon river). 16

Secondly, South America's Far South region is a harsh, food-scarce land of desert and plains. Survival was therefore difficult, and social organization was limited to small bands of hunter-gatherers. 16

The culture area of Mesoamerica consists mainly of central and southern Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. The Andean culture area spans the central Andes (Peru and western Bolivia) and southern Andes (Chile and western Argentina). Pre-colonial cities emerged throughout Mesoamerica and the central Andes urbanization did not spread to the northern Andes (which, as noted above, form part of the Caribbean culture area) or southern Andes (which nonetheless do belong to the Andean culture area).


Defining “Pre-Columbian” and “Mesoamerica”

The original inhabitants of the Americas traveled across what is now known as the Bering Strait, a passage that connected the westernmost point of North America with the easternmost point of Asia. The Western hemisphere was disconnected from Asia at the end of the last Ice Age, around 10,000 B.C.E.

In 1492, the Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus arrived at the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic), mistakenly thinking he had reached Asia. Columbus’ miscalculation marked the first step in the colonization of the Americas, or what was then seen as a “New World.” Incorrectly referring to the native inhabitants of Hispaniola as “Indians” (under the assumption that he had landed in India), Columbus established the first Spanish colony of the Americas. “Pre-Columbian” thus refers to the period in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.

Pyramid of the Sun, Teōtīhuacān. Teōtīhuacān reached its peak from the 1st to the mid-6th century C.E. The main structures include the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, Avenue of the Dead, and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (feathered serpent). Teotihuacan was home to as many as 125,000 people. The name Teōtīhuacān was given by the Aztecs long after the city had been abandoned in c. 550 C.E. The original name is lost.

The Spanish conquistadores (conquerors) found that the “New World” was in fact not new at all, and that the indigenous people of Mesoamerica had established advanced civilizations with densely populated cities and towering architectural monuments such as at Teōtīhuacān, as well as advanced writing systems.

The term pre-Columbian is complicated however. For one thing, although it refers to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the phrase does not directly reference any of the many sophisticated cultures that flourished in the Americas (think of the Aztec, Inka, or Maya, to name only a few) and instead invokes a European explorer. For this reason and because indigenous peoples flourished before and after the arrival of the Europeans, the term is often seen as flawed. Other terms such as pre-Hispanic, pre-Cortesian, or more simply, ancient Americas, are sometimes used.

Cylindrical vessel with ball game scene, c. 682-701 C.E., Late Classic, Maya, ceramic, 20.48 cm high (Dallas Museum of Art) (zoomable image here)

What does “Mesoamerica” mean?

The region of Mesoamerica—which today includes central and south Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador—consists of a diverse geographic landscape of highlands, jungles, valleys, and coastlines. Mesoamericans did not exploit technological innovations such as the wheel—though they were used in toys— and did not develop metal tools or metalworking techniques until at least until 900 C.E. Instead, Mesoamerican artists are known for producing megalithic (large stone) sculpture and extremely sharp weapons from obsidian (volcanic glass). Featherwork and stonework in basalt, turquoise, and jade dominated Mesoamerican artistic production, while exceptional textiles and metallurgy flourished further south, among pre-Columbian Andean and Central American cultures, respectively.

Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures shared certain characteristics such as the ritual ballgame,* pyramid building, human sacrifice, maize as an agricultural staple, and deities dedicated to natural forces (i.e. rain, storm, fire). Additionally, some Mesoamerican societies developed sophisticated systems of writing, as well as an advanced understanding of astronomy (which allowed for the development of accurate and complex calendar systems, including the 260-day sacred calendar and the 365-day agricultural calendar). As a result, cities like La Venta and Chichen Itza were aligned in relation to cardinal directions and had a sacred center. The fact that many of these cultural trademarks persisted for more than 2,000 years across civilizations as distinct as the Olmec (c. 1200–400 B.C.E.) and the Aztec (c. 1345 to 1521 C.E.), demonstrates the strong cultural bond of Mesoamerican cultures.

El Tajín Ball Court, c. 800 – 1200 C.E., Classic Veracruz Culture (photo: Oscar Zorrilla Alonso, CC BY-SA 2.0)

*The ballgame was played in different iterations at different times and in different places. It was played with a rubber ball that players hit with their elbows, hips, or knees. The ballgame was considered an important ritual in Mesoamerica and was practiced first by the Olmec and last by the Aztec. Since the rubber ball was solid and heavy, players wore protective gear to avoid injury and may have tried to score the ball through a ring, which was usually located high on the wall of the ballcourt. Numerous rubber balls and ballcourts have been discovered throughout Mesoamerica in El Tajín (image above) and Monte Albán, although the largest surviving ballcourt is located in Chichen Itza. While the ballgame was played by the elite, it was believed that the fate of the game and thus of the player was determined by the gods. As a result, the Mesoamerican ballgame held significant implications. Learn more about the ballgame here.


An Overview - the Aztec Timeline

This Aztec timeline includes the generally agreed upon dates of major events in the empire. For various reasons, experts dispute some dates, but this will give you an idea of the flow of events in the history of the empire, up until its fall.

Foundation Of The Empire

1350 Building of causeways with canals 1370 Death of Tenoch, religious ruler of the Mexica 1376-1395 The first king* of Tenochtitlán, Acamapichitli, rules 1390 Original construction of Templo Mayor beings in Tenochtitlán 1395-1417 The second king of Tenochtitlán, Huitzilihuitzli, rules. An alliance with the Tepaneca is created. 1417-1427 The third king, Chimalpopoca, has his relatively short reign. He is assasinated by the Tepaneca. 1427-1430 War with the Tepaneca. Up to this point the Tepaneca had been dominant in central Mexico, ruling from Azcapotzalco and taking tribute from the Mexica. 1430 Azcapotzalco conquered 1431 Establishment of the Triple Alliance between the Mexica, the Acolhua in the city Texcoco and the Tepaneca of Tlacopan. These cities became the foundation of the empire.

1517 The appearance of a comet, believed to signify impending doom
1519
4 March
Landing of Hernan Cortes on the Yucatan penninsula
1519
8 Nov
Cortes arrives in Tenochtitlán
1520 Cortes allies with Tlaxcala, enemies of the Aztec, assault on the empire begins. On the 1st of July, the Spanish forces were driven back. The Spanish and their native allies suffered heavy losses. (This is known as la Noche Triste - The Sad Night)
1520 Rule of Cuitláhuac, tenth king of Tenochtitlán
1520 Cuitláhuac dies from smallpox. Rule of Cuauhetemoc, eleventh and last king of the city.
1521
13 Aug
Fall of Tenochtitlán. Cuauhetemoc surrenders to Cortes, destruction of the city
1522 Rebuilding of the city by the Spanish as Mexico City, capital of New Spain
1525 Cuauhetemoc is hung by the Spaniards


* Note: In this Aztec timeline we refer to the ruler of Tenochtitlán as the city's "king". He would actually be called the Tlatcani, and as the main ruler of the ruling city he would be the Huey Tlatcani. Today, we often refer to the Huey Tlatcani of Tenochtitlán as the emperor. Read more about Aztec government.

The articles on this site are ©2006-2021.

If you quote this material please be courteous and provide a link.


Discussion

Bayesian statistical modeling of the data provides an age estimate of cal AD 658–696 (2σ) for the cutting and carving of Lintel 3 from Temple I. The carving on the lintel depicts King Jasaw Chan K'awiil (Ruler A) and the adjacent text describes his defeat of King Yich'aak K'ahk' (‘Claw of Fire' Martin and Grube 2000 see above for Long Count) from Calakmul. Based on the historical text and some specific stylistic elements on the lintel it was carved sometime between AD 695–712 in the European calendar using the GMT correlation 8 . This is

20–30 years later than the central tendency in the 14 C distribution but represents the only correlation accommodated within the 95% confidence interval. Adding 10–15 yrs to compensate for the removal of exterior wood during carving puts this date even closer to the expected range. These data thus strongly support the GMT correlation and there is no overlap with other correlation constants so that we can rule these out definitively (Fig. 3).

Thus, our high-precision radiocarbon-based chronology strongly supports the GMT family of correlations. We can now argue with greater certainty that Jasaw Chan K'awiil's accession to Tikal's throne occurred in AD 682 and that his decisive victory over Calakmul occurred in AD 695 (Fig. 2). The M. zapota tree that was cut and carved to commemorate this victory grew in the vicinity of Tikal during the reigns of five of his predecessors, including his father Nuun Ujol Chaak 17 . Jasaw Chan K'awiil's defeat of Calakmul followed a series of great wars between Tikal, Calakmul and Dos Pilas between AD 657 and 677 that resulted in the defeat of Nuun Ujol Chaak (Fig. 2). These events and those recorded at cities throughout the Maya lowlands can now be harmonized with greater assurance to other environmental, climatic and archaeological datasets from this and adjacent regions and suggest that climate change played an important role in the development and demise of this complex civilization 16,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35 .


Famous Battles and Conflicts

The best-documented and possibly the most important conflict was the struggle between Calakmul and Tikal in the fifth and sixth centuries. These two powerful city-states were each dominant politically, militarily and economically in their regions, but were also relatively close to one another. They began warring, with vassal cities like Dos Pilas and Caracol changing hands as the power of each respective city waxed and waned. In 562 A.D. Calakmul and/or Caracol defeated the mighty city of Tikal, which fell into a brief decline before regaining its former glory. Some cities were hit so hard that they never recovered, like Dos Pilas in 760 A.D. and Aguateca sometime around 790 A.D.


Correlation between Mesoamerican and South Asian calendar systems - History


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Inca Site Machu Picchu

Aztec Chacmool, Tenochitlan

The Inca were a tribe around the 12th century who formed a city-state, Cuzco which became a major city and capital of a powerful and wealthy empire in Peru, Bolivia and Equador. They conquered their neighbors, or brought city-states in peacefully with promises of benefits and/or threats of conquest. They ruled their empire with a centralized government and four provincial governments. Inca Creation Myth

In 1533, Spanish invaders led by Francisco Pizarro conquered most of the Inca empire. By 1542, the Spahish established a Viceroyalty of Peru.

The Maya Civilization lived in Central America, including south Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras between 2500 BCE and 1500 CE.

The Classic Maya Civilization 250-900 CE developed a hieroglyphic writing system. They studied astronomy and mathematics, calculated highly accurate calendars, predicted eclipses and other astronomical events. They built elaborate temples and pyramids and had a complex social order.

They were a religious society and held festivals throughout the year to ensure the favor of the gods. They sacrificed to the gods and made ritual offerings. Part of religious ceremony involved drinking an intoxicant called balche.

The great cities such as Tikal, and Palenque of the classical period and Chichen Itza of the post classical period, were religious centers and were inhabited mostly by the priests. They played a ballgame with ritual significance and left behind elaborate ball courts. Most of the people lived in small farming communities. The demise of this dynamic civilization is a mystery, but around 900 AD they abandoned their cities. The Mayan people did not disappear and continue to live in Mexico and Central America.

The Aztecs were a people who came into the Valley of Mexico in the 12th century and quickly rose to become the dominant power in Mesoamerica. The capital of the Aztecs, Tenochtitlan, was built on Lake Texcoco on raised islands. The Aztecs formed an empire commanding tribute from other city states in Mesoamerica. A religious society, the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice, like other mesoamerican civilizations.

The Aztecs were at the peak of their power when in 1521 they were destroyed by Hernan Cortes and the Spanish conquistadors. The Spanish built the city of Mexico City on the ruins of the destroyed Tenochtitlan. Compare the Spanish Accounts of the Conquest and the Aztec Accounts.

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Correlation between Mesoamerican and South Asian calendar systems - History

Ancient Aztec religion hymn:
Huitzilopochtli is first in rank, no one, no one is like unto him: not vainly do I sing (his praises) coming forth in the garb of our ancestors
I shine I glitter.

The Hymn of Huitzilopochtli (trans. by Daniel G. Brinton)

Ancient Aztec religion was a complex interaction of gods, dates, directions and colours. It seems that most of the preoccupation in the religion had to do with fear of the nature, and a fear of the end of the world.

By the time the Mexica's Empire (Mexica is the proper name for the tribe at the heart of the Aztec empire) was at its height, the political and religions systems were in close interaction. The actions of the ruling classes and common people can be best understood if we look way back to the Mexica understanding of the creation, or rather creations, of the world. Because the religion was a mixture from various peoples, there are variations. We'll give a general overview here.

In the Beginnings

Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent

According to ancient Aztec religion, it took the gods 5 tries to create the world. These attempts were foiled because of infighting among the gods themselves. After he was knocked from his exalted position by rivals, the first creator, Tezcatlipoca, turned into a jaguar and destroyed the world. Under similar circumstances, the world was created and then destroyed with wind, and then two floods.

Each time a creator-god would take a turn being the sun. (Read more about the various Aztec sun gods here) Finally the gods had a council, and decided one of them would have to sacrifice himself to be the new sun. Nanauatl, a lowly, humble god became the sun, but there was a problem - he wasn't moving. The gods realized that they all must sacrifice themselves so that humans could live. The god Ehecatl sacrificed the others, and a mighty wind arose to move the sun at last.

This was no free sacrifice, however. Not only would the people have to help this weak sun to keep moving, they would also be responsible to repay the sacrifice. The world remained in a precarious position!

Once the sun was dealt with, the world had to be recreated. Quetzalcoatl (meaning feathered serpent) was the one who would create humans. Of course, people had been created several times before, so Quetzalcoatl descended into the underworld to retrieve their bones. He tripped as he fled, and the bones shattered into different sized pieces, which is why people are all different sizes. By adding his own blood to the mix, people came to life.

For another variation and more detail, see the Aztec creation story here.

The calendar and the sun

The ancient Aztec religion was highly focused on keeping nature in balance. One false step could lead to natural disaster. The weak sun could stop moving. In the sky was a constant battle between light and darkness, a battle that would someday be lost.

Huitzilopochtli (Hummingbird of the South) was the warrior sun (either the sun god or the one who fights for the sun god, Tonatiuh (the name given to Nanauatl)). Huitzilopochtli (or Tonatiuh) needed blood sacrifice in order to win the battle against darkness. Either there would be ritual blood-letting, or actual people would be sacrificed. Those sacrificed would rise to fight with him. And so human sacrifices became more and more common in Mexico. Often battles would be fought just to capture prisoners to sacrifice - the Aztec flower war (or Aztec flowery war).

Every 52 years, the people were terrified that the world would end. All religious fires were extinguished, people all over the empire would destroy their furniture and precious belongings and go into mourning. When the constellation of the Pleiades appeared, the people would be assured that they were safe for another 52 years.

The world in ancient Aztec religion was divided up into 4 quadrants, and the center - their city Tenochtitlán. The heavens were divided into 13 ascending layers, and the underworld 9 descending layers. The heavens and underworld may be better described as wheels within wheels, a more common form for the Aztecs than layers or lines. The temple in Tenochtitlán was also the place where the forces of heaven and earth intersected.

The end

Prophecies were a part of the ancient Aztec religion. Many scholars today believe that the Aztec people thought that the conquerer Hernan Cortes was their god-hero Quetzalcoatl, who had been banished. Whether or not the more educated upper class shared this belief is questionable.

The afterlife of a person was based mostly on how they died. Some, such as those sacrificed to Huitzilopochtli, would join the battle against the darkness. In ancient Aztec religion, some would eventually be reincarnated as birds or butterflies, or eventually humans. Some would be, for a time, disembodied spirits roaming the earth. Most at some point would have to make the long journey through the 9 levels of the underworld. People would be buried in a squatting position, with items that would help them in their journey. In the end they would live in darkness.

The great temple at Tenochtitlán today,
where temples to the gods Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc stood

To summarize

Ancient Aztec religion was focused on how the gods, humans and nature were interconnected. There was a strong emphasis on the worship of Huitzilopochtli. The military conquest and ritual sacrifices were all related, and in a great part focused on helping Huitzilopochtli keep the sun strong so that disaster could be averted every 52 years.

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If you quote this material please be courteous and provide a link.


Correlation between Mesoamerican and South Asian calendar systems - History

Versions of the Chinese calendar have been used for thousands of years. Today the Chinese calendar is still used to mark traditional Chinese holidays, but the common Gregorian calendar (the one used by most of the rest of the world) is used for daily business in China.

The Chinese calendar was developed by many of the Chinese dynasties of Ancient China. However, it was in 104 BC during the rule of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty that the current calendar was defined. This calendar was called the Taichu calendar. It is the same Chinese calendar that is used today.

Each year in the Chinese calendar is named after an animal. For example, 2012 was the "year of the dragon". There are 12 animals that the years cycle through. Every 12 years the cycle repeats itself. The Chinese believed that, depending on which year a person was born, their personality would take on the aspects of that animal.

Here are the animals and what they mean:

  • Years: 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
  • Personality: charming, cunning, funny, and loyal
  • Get along with: dragons and monkeys, not with horses
  • Years: 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
  • Personality: hard working, serious, patient, and trustworthy
  • Get along with: snakes and roosters, not with sheep
  • Years: 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
  • Personality: aggressive, brave, ambitious, and intense
  • Get along with: dogs and horses, not with monkeys
  • Years: 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
  • Personality: popular, lucky, kind, and sensitive
  • Get along with: sheep and pigs, not with roosters
  • Years: 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
  • Personality: wise, powerful, energetic, and charismatic
  • Get along with: monkeys and rats, not with dogs
  • Years: 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
  • Personality: smart, jealous, analytical, and generous
  • Get along with: roosters and oxen, not with pigs
  • Years: 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002
  • Personality: like to travel, attractive, impatient, and popular
  • Get along with: tigers and dogs, not with rats
  • Years: 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003
  • Personality: creative, shy, sympathetic, and insecure
  • Get along with: rabbits and pigs, not with oxen
  • Years: 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004
  • Personality: inventive, energetic, successful, and deceitful
  • Get along with: dragons and rats, not with tigers
  • Years: 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005
  • Personality: honest, neat, practical, and proud
  • Get along with: snakes and oxen, not with rabbits
  • Years: 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006
  • Personality: loyal, honest, sensitive, and moody
  • Get along with: tigers and horses, not with dragons
  • Years: 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007
  • Personality: intelligent, sincere, perfectionist, and noble
  • Get along with: rabbits and sheep, not with pigs

Legend of the Chinese Years

According to ancient Chinese legend, the order of the animals in the calendar was determined by a race. The animals raced across a river and their position in the cycle was determined by how they finished in the race. The rat won because it rode on the back of the oxen and jumped off its back at the last minute to win the race.

There is a also an element for each year. There are five elements that cycle through each year. They are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.

Major Chinese holidays still use the Chinese calendar to determine when they are celebrated. These holidays include the Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Boat Dragon Festival, Night of Sevens, Ghost Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and the Winter Solstice Festival.


The Chinese calendar is based on a lunisolar system. According to this system, each month begins on the day when the moon is in the "new moon" phase. The beginning of a new year is also marked by the position of the moon and occurs when the moon is midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Officially, the country uses the Gregorian calendar although the Chinese calendar is used to celebrate holidays.

The previously mentioned Gregorian calendar is another notable calendar widely used around the world. This calendar replaced the Julian calendar, improving the accuracy of the year's length by .002%. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in the 16th Century AD. This new calendar helped stop the year from drifting away from the solstice and equinox, allowing Easter to be celebrated around the vernal equinox. Although associated with Christianity, the Gregorian calendar is now the most widely used civil calendar in the world.


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