With Chinese New Year comes many annoyances. Nonstop fireworks for a week ranks up there pretty high. But another thing that annoys me is that during the Chinese New Year season, Chinese people lose the ability to refer to dates using the normal calendar. I use the word “normal” not in an ethnocentric way, but in the sense that it is the calendar that all of China uses for the other 50 weeks out of the year. When Chinese New Year comes around, however, attempts to use non-lunar date nomenclature result in East-West communication breakdown.
Me: Let’s do it on February 2nd.
Person: I’m not free on the 4th day of the lunar new year.
Me: OK, so is February 2nd OK then?
Person: Is that the 4th or the 5th day of the lunar new year?
Me: I don’t know. It’s February 2nd. February. Second.
Me: So can you come next Wednesday?
Person: Wednesday? What is that, the second day of the lunar new year?
Me: Wednesday. You know, Wednesday.
Person: Oh wait, I think that’s the fourth day of the lunar new year…
Call me culturally intolerant, but this is super annoying. The latest casualty of this phenomenon was me missing out on a meal cooked by my awesome ayi, Xiao Wang. Oh well. She deserves another day off for the holidays anyway.
One of these years I’ll get around to realigning my temporal frame of reference to the moon just two weeks out of every year. But until then I will be annoyed for those two weeks a year.