I recently read a 1998 article about the Chinese almanac (tong shu) from a Taiwanese/English language magazine. (Give it up to the power and scope of the internet that one is able to read an article that is 10 years old!)
Although the Chinese government prints an official almanac, astrologers throughout history have distributed their own versions, called “tong shus” or popular almanacs. The tong shu converts the Gregorian calendar to a lunar based Chinese calendar, lists lucky and unlucky days and provides advise on what to do or not to do on those days.
It is used by almost all Chinese to find auspicious days for anything from weddings to business grand openings to funerals. According to the article, most people throughout the world have at some point categorized time—so that funerals and marriages wouldn’t occur on the same day in a small village, for example—but the Chinese are probably the only ones to take date selection to such a high level.
In a culture deeply rooted in philosophies based on the theories of chi/qi (energy), five elements, yin yang, and heaven/earthly influences, it is no wonder 80-90% of all Chinese (who can still read Chinese, that is) still refer to the tong shu.
But just like there are different schools of feng shui, there are also different schools for calculating the almanac. Therefore, you will find one tong shu that lists a certain day as lucky, while another might list the same day as unlucky.
The article provides an interesting and short history of the tong shu, then follows a scholar as he traces the 90 different Taiwanese tong shus back to the Jicheng Hall school, established by Hong Chaohe of China in the late 1700s to early 1800s. Hong school almanacs are the most popular in Taiwan, and even rival companies are forced to print that their almanacs are Hong-based. Even the descendant of a rival astrologer, who believes that his ancestor Luo Chuanlie was the better skilled but studied under the Hong school for name recognition, recalled a legend:
Hong and Luo participated in a national examination. The test was to determine how many leaves a particular tree would lose at a particular time. Hong said two, while Luo said one-and-a-half. Oddly enough, in the end the tree lost one healthy leaf, and one half-torn leaf.
Those truly interested in astrology should consult the orthodox imperial almanacs used by emperors, such as the Xieji Bianfang Almanac. Popular almanacs use different calculation methods, often refer to “baseless superstitions,” and have successors who might not be knowledgeable enough to recognize mistakes, thus diminishing the accuracy of tong shus.
Throw in the fact that almost all tong shus are calculated for China time zones and there are few to none English versions, how are we in the West supposed to rely on the Chinese almanac? The only answer is that if most tong shus list a day as being unlucky, we can plan to not schedule activities on that day. More than half the battle is eliminating major activities on bad days.
On the other hand, if you are basing your entire day—every day—on the predictions of an almanac (or daily horoscope, for that matter), then you need to seek a doctor for a prognosis of your obsessive-compulsiveness :). Lol… I don’t mean to be insulting; this is just a disclaimer about the reliability and accuracy of the daily horoscopes. (Please, please check in to rattopig every day!!! And thank you for your loyalty!)
I’m not trying to send mixed messages. It’s the same as if you were surfing medical-related sites for information on treating a disease, for instance. Websites can only provide general info or advice. If you have an important event coming up, you should consult a professional. Daily forecasts are meant for entertainment only at best, and should be taken lightly. Enjoy!