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Marriage and the Widow Year

2016 is the year of the Fire Monkey. It is also a Widow Year. The Chinese believes that marriage in a "Widow Year" is inauspicious.

First, what is a Widow Year? To understand this, we need to appreciate the two types of calendars: the solar calendar and the lunar calendar. The solar calendar is based on the movement of the earth around the sun. The lunar calendar (A), on the other hand, is based on the movement of the moon around the earth. The first day of the solar calendar is known as "Li Chun" (߬K) which falls mostly on 4 February. The first day of the lunar calendar, on the other hand, is the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year. The difference in the time cycle of the two calendars means that the first days of the two calendars rarely occur on the same day. Whenever "Li Chun" occurs before the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year, the lunar year would not have a "Li Chun". The absence of "Li Chun" in a lunar year is known as a "Widow Year".

For example, for the lunar year 2016, "Li Chun" fell on 4 February 2016; while the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year fell on 8 February 2016. This means the 2016 lunar year did not have a "Li Chun". Since there was no "Li Chun", the 2016 lunar year was a "Widow Year". The "Widow Year" is not a rare occurrence. If one were to look up the thousand year calendar, you would find that the "Widow Year" occurs quite frequently.

For the lunar year 2017, "Li Chun" fell on 3 February 2017 and the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year fell on 28 January 2017. This means "Li Chun" occurred after the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year. This also means that the 2017 lunar year had a "Li Chun" and was not a "Widow Year".

How did the name Widow Year come about? The name Widow Year came about because superstition has it that a woman who marries in a Widow Year will bring pre-matured death to her husband. It is for this reason that a lunar year with no "Li Chun" is called a Widow Year. From a Chinese metaphysical prospective, the absence of "Li Chun" in a lunar year, which is purely due to the difference in the time period between the two calendars, should not have any bad influence on people marrying in a Widow Year.

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