Many benefit referring to the almanac which includes the phases of the New and Full Moon in any given month. The New moon is when the Earth sits completely between the moon and Sun, and the Full moon is when the Moon sits completely between the Earth and Sun! The problem exists in most calendar because of the time of the New moon in the equinoxes and solstices each year.
If we watch the phases of the moon and only concerned when a year is complete (tropical year), we would not have a problem. The main problem is an extra new moon sometimes in a year’s time. Since, we want to know how to determine a number of consecutive years (how old am I really) is why we have so many different calendars across time. Seemingly, the extra new moon is the culprit, but really has more to do with the time the Earth takes for a complete revolution around the Sun!
The moon is always been a mystery to me. So many people put a lot of emphasis on the moon when it comes to hauntings and folklore such as werewolves. From time to time, family members blamed certain unusual behavior on the moon. I still believe this is true. Have you ever heard if a person stares at the moon too long they go berserk? Funny stuff people come up with to scare little kids to get them to go to sleep. Mostly, I find fascinating is the power of the moon’s gravitational pull on such a huge planet as the Earth. The Earth is the shape similar to an egg when between the moon and Sun.
One way to determine a complete month is to observe the phases of the moon. Between one Full Moon and another is approximately 28 days or between a new moon and another. The transitioning of moon phases is also thought to give us a perfect idea of galactic time known as the 13 Moon Calendar. For simplicity sake, the lunar calendar reflects the observance of moon phases to determine a full year known as a tropical year during Roman times (Roman Calendar). The tropical year on average has 355 days and a leap year has 383 days.
I am sure you are familiar with Sosigenes! If so, you know he is the Alexandrian astronomer general Julius Caesar commissioned to devise a purely solar calendar (Julian), for simplicity sake, to replace the Roman Calendar. The Julian calendar allowed for estimating a complete year through Sosigenese taking away or adding an extra day based on the phases of the moon, much different than a tropical year which has an entire extra month ever so often. Because February marked the end of a year in the Julian calendar, any discrepancies would add an extra day or taken away we recognize today as a leap year.
Although still in use in some parts of the world, the number of leap year adjustments (four days were lost in 1700s) and the lack of consistency with religious holiday (Easter) observances for greater simplicity sake, the internationally recognized Gregorian Calendar replaced the Julian Calendar.
Yep, another calendar includes both lunar and solar calculations known as the the Lunisolar Calendar or Chinese Calendar (Time and Date, 2017) which observes moon phases as well as the longitude of direct sunlight. Very similar to the tropical year, the Chinese calendar has 13 months to make up for discrepancies with an extra new moon; although, the calendar fails at times as does all other calendars. The Chinese calendar helps in knowing when to observe and celebrate important festivals each year. Some may consider the Chinese lunisolar calendar as a lunar calendar because the calendar takes into consideration the phases of the moon but realistically exists a lunar and solar calendar; each one for different purposes!
Specifically, the Chinese calendar observes cycles (based on the recognition of longitudinal direct Sunlight) and number of new moons between one year and another. In order to know what year, a celestial reference (10 in all) and a terrestrial reference (12 in all) known as zodiacs make up 60 different references (one cycle) where each combination represents a year within the entire cycle.
A celestial (solar) cross reference with a terrestrial (lunar) reference, we know the current year. I was born in the Bing (fire; solar) Wu (Horse; lunar) year. If you know the 10 celestial and 12 terrestrial references, you can determine a person’s age. The year of this article is within the Ding (yin Fire) You (Rooster) year. Just so you know, the next Bing Wu year is in 2026; meaning there is a span of sixty years between the year of my birth and the next Bing Wu year. Other Horse’s born different years are metal, earth, wood, and water horses.
The important thing for recognizing phases of the moon (new moon) help make sure of the Chinese new year and detecting any leap year. You need to be able to determine if you are a Bing Wu or a Yi Si! If you are born on a leap year and before January 21st, you are the previous year and previous lunar term (Zhongqi).
The Chinese new year must fall between January 21 and February 21 of any given year. Most of the time, a Chinese year calendar has 12 months, but a leap year (about every three years) means an extra new moon—:). A Chinese leap year is any additional new moons other than 12 that exists between the previous year’s winter solstice and the next year’s winter solstice. Typically, around the world the winter solstice marks a day in the year with the least amount of light.
Varying dates that mark the winter solstice are December 20, 21, 22, and 23. Some of the reasons for variation in marking the winter solstice date include the Earth’s wobble, influence of other planets on the Earth’s rotation around the Sun, and variations between different calendars. The fact remains that the time it takes for the Earth to return to position after cycling around the Sun varies but on average takes around 365 days. Instead of making up for these differences by adding a day onto February, the Chinese calendar determines a leap year taking into account the extra month (13).
Seems very complicated, but a valid reason exists behind every method for different types of calendars which is really interesting study.
Reference: Time and Date (2017). The Chinese Calendar. Retrieved from https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/about-chinese.html