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The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms. Chūnfēn, Shunbun, Chunbun, or Xuân phân is the 4th solar term. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 0° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 15°. In the Gregorian calendar, it usually begins around 20 March and ends around 4 April (5 April East Asia time). It more often refers in particular to the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 0°.
Each solar term can be divided into 3 pentads (候). They are:
first pentad (初候),
second pentad (次候) and
last pentad (末候).
Pentads in Chunfen include:
First pentad: 玄鳥至, 'The dark birds arrive'. 'Dark bird' in this case refers to swallows, which are also making their northward migration.
Second pentad: 雷乃發聲, 'Thunder sounds', referring to the onset of spring thunderstorms.
Last pentad: 始電, 'Lightning begins'. This refers to thunderstorms as well, but also to the gradual lengthening of daytime, and the prevalence of sunlight.
A pentad as follows was referred to Japanese traditional calendar presented in a smaller, easy to use, format.
First pentad: Suzume hajimete sukuu (雀始巣), 'Sparrow begins holding a nest'.
Second pentad: Sakura hajimete hiraku (桜始開), 'Cherry blossoms open for the first time'.
Last pentad: Kaminari sunawachi koeo hassu (雷乃発声), 'Distant thunder start to sound'.
2019's Spring / Vernal Equinox
Supermoon shot on the iPhone XS Max by Mr. Chua
Just signed a new mobile phone contract with Starhub and got myself a new smartphone upgrade. Together with a 18x telescopic add-on lens, while holding the phone very still, managed to take some decent shots of the supermoon on the night of the 20th March in Singapore.
During this Lunar New Year period, traditional news and social media provide a lot of coverage about the Chinese Spring Festival. There are usually articles about the 12 zodiac signs.
To the common man in the street, it is already a challenge to remember all 12 animals of the zodiac, as compared to me who has been working in this profession of Feng Shui and Ba Zi, who has this information on my fingertips. It is a bit more technical, as they are called the 12 Di Zi / Earthly Branches, but I will write this in a simple to understand way.
Many by now will be familiar with the 5 Elements of Chinese metaphysics, or wú xíng. These 5 elements are not static, they are dynamic in that they are constantly interacting with each other.
There is a circular sequence of "producing in":
Wood -> Fire -> Earth -> Metal -> Water -> Wood
And a circular sequence of "controlling in"
Wood -> Earth -> Water -> Fire -> Metal -> Wood
The "producing in" circular sequence is used for the Chinese calendar. For each of the 12 zodiac signs, we pair them up with one of the five elements, resulting in a total of 60 pairs (technical name sexagenary cycle). So, for example, for the Pig sign, there are:
Metal Pig, and
Hence the title of this article, 5 Elements 5 Pigs.
Just as an interesting aside, the 60 pairs represents a full cycle, which is why in Chinese customs, the 60th birthday is a big celebration. It celebrates the completion of a full cycle of 60 years, and it is called 六十大寿 (60th grand longevity). *edit 10 Feb 2019
There is Mathematics in using the 5 elements and the 12 zodiac signs even though they seem to be non-numerical nouns. When you follow the "producing in" sequence of the 5 elements on the paired Pig signs, you can count in multiples of 12.
For example, Wood comes before Fire, and so we know that someone born in the year of the Wood Pig is 12 years older than the Fire Pig. As Earth comes after Fire, we know that the Earth Pig is 12 years younger than the Fire Pig.
In reality when you see a young adult and a teenager together who say they were both born in the year of the Pig, this method of pairing up the zodiac signs with elements can help us deduce that they are either 12 years or 24 years apart in age, plus judgement on how physically old they look like.
And if you can further memorise the sequence of the 12 zodiac signs, you can work out people's age by knowing their zodiac signs; which is useful for making conversations. This is very different from the western Gregorian calendar that uses numerical system. The Chinese calendar system may use Chinese characters, but in the end the calculation of age is still mathematical, just that numbers are not used to denote the year.
If you are interested in Chinese metaphysics, then you have to take it a step further by memorising the 12 Di Zi names of the zodiac signs, because that is the universal language that all practitioners use in Ba Zi birth charts and Feng Shui methods.
zǐ - Rat
chǒu - Ox
yín - Tiger
mǎo - Rabbit
chén - Dragon
sì - Snake
wǔ - Horse
wèi - Goat
shēn - Monkey
yǒu - Rooster
xū - Dog
hài - Pig
One last fact to end this article, the Pig or Hài is the last sign of the 12 in sequence. Next year, the circular sequence starts at zǐ or Rat again.
All the graphics in this article are produced by me, Mr. Chua and the article is written by me. If you want to reproduce in part or full, please quote origin Pure Feng Shui, Mr. Chua and the web site address.