Imagine if your birthday wasn’t very important. Imagine if the months fell in slightly different seasons every year. Imagine if February usually had 29 or even 30 days. Imagine if every couple years there were 13 months instead of 12.
Imagine all this, and you are living with the Japanese Calendar.
When I first started reading about the Asian system of calculating age, I was mystified. Why didn’t birthdays matter? Why did everyone just add another year to their age at New Year’s? Was it just another part of being in a collectivist culture, where the focus is on the welfare of the group rather than on that of the individual?
It wasn’t until I finally calculated the Japanese calendar for myself that I finally understood. As it turns out, if your birthday is February 6th (or the sixth day of the second month), it may never again fall on the same day of the year in your lifetime! It could fall as many as two weeks before or after the day you were actually born. And if there is a leap month in there before your birth month, forget it! Counting your age from the New Year is just common sense by comparison.