The Chinese calendar has a sixty year cycle originating back to 2637 BC when we see the first record of the Calendar in Oracle Bones. The calendar is made up of two parts; the first being the heavenly stem and the second the earthly branch. The two parts are combined to make up the 60 year cycle, giving the yin and yang to the year.
The heavenly stem 天干 (Tīan Gān) has ten components; they are Jiă 甲,(wood), Yǐ 乙 (wood), Bǐng 丙(fire), Dīng 丁(fire), Wù 戊(earth), Jǐ 己(earth), Gēng 庚, (metal), Xīn 辛(metal), Rén 壬(water), Guǐ 癸(water). There are several explanations for the differences in the different elements, as in Jiă is referred to as natural wood and strong wood, while Yǐ can be referred to as cut wood or soft wood. The basic concept is that each element wood, fire, earth, metal and water, has a Yin and Yang component; so you have the Yin wood Yǐ, and the Yang wood Jiă.
The earthly branch 地支 (Dì Zhī) is composed of 12 elements associated with the 12 year orbit of Jupiter. This is where the 12 months of the year and the 12 hour cycle in a day comes from. The elements were then represented by animals. The animal representations are as follows: Zǐ 子 (Rat), Chǒu 丑 (Ox), Yín 寅 (Tiger),Mǎo 卯 (Rabbit), Chén 辰 (Dragon), Sì 巳 (Snake), Wǔ 午 (Horse), Wèi 未 (Sheep), Shēn 申 (Monkey), Yǒu 酉 (Rooster), Xū 戌 (Dog), Hài 亥 (Boar).
Each year is a combination of the Heavenly Stem and the Earthly Branch. So you have the Rat Wood, Rat Fire etc. The year 2012 is the Dragon Water.
Drop by Yu’s Garden Chinese Restaurant and let us help you bring in the year of the Water Dragon.
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