The Chinese Almanac has a legendary history that stretches back 2000 over years before Christ. The current version is believed to date back to the Qing dynasty and has been in continuous publication for over 200 years. Previous versions existed – very likely less extensive that the current version – throughout Chinese history in one form or another.
‘Tung’ in Chinese means ‘pass thru’. As with most Chinese translation the meaning is not accurately conveyed. A more accurate meaning would be ‘everything become clear’. ‘Shu’ means book. Therefore ‘Tung Shu’ is a book about everything or a book about myriad of things.
In Hong Kong which is predominately Cantonese, the book is known as ‘Tong Sing’. You see, ‘Shu’ sounds like losing while ‘Sing’ sounds like victory which is vastly more auspicious and more accepted by the Cantonese.
The core of the book is the calendar which gives the outlook of the year and auspicious and inauspicious dates. Surrounding this calendar core are a fascinating collection of materials that include fortune telling, predictions, geomancy, physiognomy, palmistry, divination, herbal medicine, numerology, moral codes, dictionary, pregnancy chart, charms and talisman etc.
The Chinese Almanac is thus an extensive collection of traditional Chinese belief and practices. Most traditional Chinese families have a copy that they refer to and even today it still influence the lives of millions of Chinese people.
Much of the Chinese Almanac remains the same each year. Only a few sections of the Almanac such as the calendar changes every year. Some publishers also offer an express version that only contains the parts that change every year.
So what’s in the Chinese Almanac?
Versions of the Chinese Almanac may differ slightly by publishers. Here are the typical sections.
- The Spring Cow and Feng Shui Chart
- 100 Years Astrological Calendar Characters
- Personal Fortune of the Year
- Last 200 Years Chinese Western Calendar
- The 24 Sub Season (Joints and Qi)
- Writing Auspicious Characters
- The Biscuit Poem
- The Poem of the Four Seasons Astrology
- Sunrise and Sunset Times of the 24 Sub Seasons
- The Ghost Catcher and his Charms
- The 28 Constellations
- Fortune Telling by Physical Sensations
- The Influence of the Five Elements on Childhood
- Auspicious and Inauspicious Dates for Activities
- Deity in Charge based on Your Year of Birth
- Table of Auspicious and Inauspicious Dates
- Charms – Protect the Fetus and Childhood
- Grandmaster Chou’s Book of Dreams
- Weather and Farming Forecast
- Auspicious and Inauspicious Stars of the Year
- Cup Divination
- Coin Divination
- Chinese Birth Weight Astrology
- Lucky Direction of the Day
- Hand Method of Fortune Telling
- A Story about Confucius
- Etiquette in Writing Letter and Invitations
- How to Pronounce English Words
- Fortune Telling by the Number of Strokes in your Name
- Writing Styles
- Telegram Numeration of Chinese Characters
- The 100 Chinese Family Names
- Auspicious Times for Misc. Activities
- Judging People by their Habits
- Guide to Running a Small Business
- Guide to Managing Your Home
- Traditional Medicine and Prescriptions
- Astrology Charts
- Face Reading and Palmistry
- Song of Interpreting Personalities
- Date Selection: Grandmaster Dong’s Methods
- The Yin Yang Calendar – Lunar and Solar
- More Charms
- The Jia Zi Cycles showing Good and Bad Stars
- Current Year Calendar
- The Spring Cow and Feng Shui Chart of the Next Year
Phew. There are 47 sections in total covering almost everything. No wonder that the Chinese Almanac is also known as the ‘Know Everything Book’.