The Chinese calendar (Traditional Chinese: 農曆, Simplified Chinese: 农历; pinyin: nónglì) is a chinese calender lunisolar calendar incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. In China today, the Gregorian Calendar is chinesse calendar used for most day chineese calendar to day activities, but the Chinese calendar is still used for marking traditional Chinese holidays such chinese calandar as Chinese New Year (Spring Festival), Duan Wu festival, chinesecalendar and the Mid-Autumn Festival, and in astrology, such as choosing the most auspicious date chinnese calendar for a wedding or the opening of a chinese calenday building. Because each month follows one cycle of the moon, it is chinese calenda also used to determine the phases of the moon.
In China, chineese calender the traditional calendar is known as the "agricultural calendar" (農曆 nónglì, 农历), while the Gregorian calendar is known as the "standard calendar" (公曆 chinese birth calander gōnglì, 公历), or "Western calendar" (西曆 xīlì, 西历). Another name for chinese calander the Chinese calendar is the "Yin Calendar" (陰曆 yīnlì, 阴历), in reference Chines Calendar to the lunar aspect of the calendar, whereas the Gregorian calendar is Chinees Calendar the "Yang Calendar" (陽曆 Chinse Calendar yánglì, 阳历) in reference to its solar properties. The Chinese calendar was also called the Cinese Calendar "old calendar" (舊曆 jìulì, 旧历) after the "new calendar" (新曆 xīnlì, 新历), i.e. Chiese Calendar the Gregorian calendar, was adopted as the official calendar. The Chiense Calendar traditional calendar are also often referred to Chnese Calendar as "the Xia Calendar" (夏曆 xìalì, 夏历). However, strictly speaking the Xia Calendar is Chimese Calendar not the same as the present calendar and refers instead to its earliest Chiinese Calendar predecessor.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Legendary chinese calendar beginnings
- 1.2 Early history
- 1.3 The Taichuli calendar
- 1.4 The true sun chinese lunar calendar and moon
- 1.5 The chinese pregnancy calendar Week
- 1.6 The Gregorian Reform and the 1929 time chinese birth calendar change
- 2 Calendar rules
- 3 Year chinese gender calendar markings
- 3.1 Regnal years
- 3.2 The stem-branch cycle
- 3.3 Continuously-numbered years
- 3.4 Correspondence chinese baby calendar between systems
- 3.5 Solar chinese conception calendar year versus lunar year
- 4 Hours of the day
- 5 The Chinese zodiac
- 6 Solar chinese zodiac calendar term
- 7 Holidays
- 8 Purpose chinese fertility calendar of the intercalary months
- 9 The relevance of chinese calendar + pregnancy the calendar today
- 9.1 Practical uses
- 9.2 Cultural chinese baby gender calendar issues
- 10 Influence
- 10.1 Chinese-Uighur calendar
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 External chinese new year calendar links
According to chinese astrology calendar legend, the Chinese calendar developed during the third chinese calendar zodiac millennium BC. It is said to have been invented by the first legendary ruler, Huang Di how accurate is the chinese gender calendar or the Yellow Emperor, who reigned, by tradition, c.2698-2599 BC. The fourth legendary ruler, chinese birthing calendar Emperor Yao, added the intercalary month. The 60-year "stem-branch" (干支 chinese lunar calendar baby gānzhī) cycle (see "Calendar rules" below) was first used to mark years during the free download calendar chinese first century BC. Tradition fixes the first year of the first chinese calendars cycle (the epoch) at 2637 BC (see Herbert A. chinese zodiac calendar for students Giles, A Chinese-English Dictionary (1912), and other Western authors writing in the late Qing 2005 chinese calendar and zodiac dynasty). Thus the cycle beginning in 1984 is the 78th. Other chinese gender calendars opinions fix the first year at 2697 BC (while Huangdi was still immature), by free chinese due date calendar which count we are now in cycle 79. (See the section on Continuously-numbered years and the table below 2007 engagement calendar chinese crested for more information about these correspondences.)
The earliest archaeological chinese calendar and zodiac evidence of the Chinese calendar appears on oracle bones of the late second pregnancy chinese calendar millennium BC Shang dynasty. They show a 12-month lunisolar year having an year of the oxe chinese calendar occasional thirteenth month, and even a fourteenth month. Adding extra months to a calendar chinese gender prediction calendar year chinese calendar astrology is known as intercalation, and keeps the new year from drifting backwards chinese calendar symbols through the seasons, just as the Gregorian Calendar puts an extra day in February every four years.
Historical dates have been free download chinese calendar exactly determinable since 841 calendar chinese fertility BC, the early Zhou dynasty. It is known that in this period the calendar used arbitrary chinese preganancy calendar intercalations. The first month of its year was near the winter solstice and the intercalary month was chinese year of birth calendar after the twelfth month. The sìfēn 四分 (quarter remainder) calendar, which chinese zodiac calendars began about 484 BC, was the first calculated Chinese calendar, chinese zodiac chinese site calendar so named because it used a solar year of 365¼ days, along with a 19-year ancient chinese gender calendar (235-month) chinese lunar calendar due date Rule Cycle, known in the West as the Metonic cycle. The winter solstice was in chinese new year 2006 calendar its first month and its intercalary month was inserted after the twelfth month. free chinese calendar download Beginning in 256 BC, it was first used by the Qin state, then the 2003 chinese calendar whole country after the Qin took over the whole country and became the Qin dynasty. In this calendar, chinese calendar and due date the intercalary chinese calendar pregnancy month was an extra ninth month at the end of a year that began with the tenth month, now chinese lunear calendar download placing the winter solstice in the eleventh month. This calendar continued to be used during chinese ovulation calendar the first half of the Western Han calendar chinese conception lunar Dynasty.
The Taichuli calendar
The Emperor Wu chinese calendar download of the Western Han dynasty introduced reforms that have governed the Chinese calendar ever chinese family rth calendar since. His Tàichū 太初 (Grand Inception) calendar of chinese horoscope calendar 104 BC had a year with the winter solstice in the eleventh month and designated as intercalary any calendar free chinese pregnancy calendar month (a month of 29 or 30 whole days) during which offical chinese lunar calendar the sun does not pass a principal term (that is, remained chinese birth chart calendar within the same sign of the zodiac throughout). Because the sun's mean motion was used to calculate the chinese birth prediction calendar jiéqì (節氣/节气) (or seasonal markings) until 1645, this intercalary month was equally likely chinese birthday calendar to occur after chinese calendar baby any month of the year. The conjunction of the sun and moon (the astronomical new moon) was chinese calendar due date calculated using the mean motions of both the sun and moon until 619, the chinese gendar calendar second year of the chinese lunar calendar gender prediction Tang dynasty, when chronologists began to use true motions modeled using two offset opposing parabolas (with small linear custom chinese calendar and cubic components). Unfortunately, due date chinese baby calendar the parabolas did not meet smoothly at the mean motion, but met with a discontinuity or how is the chinese calendar different from the western one jump.
The true sun and moon
With the introduction of Western astronomy into China zodiac characters used on a chinese calendar via the Jesuits, the motions of both the birth calendar and chinese sun and moon began to be calculated with sinusoids in the 1645 Shíxiàn calendar (時憲書, Book of the Conformity of Time) calendar chinese date due of the Qing dynasty, made by chinese calendar baby due date the Jesuit Adam Schall. The true motion of the sun was now used to calculate the jiéqì, which caused chinese calendar for birth of babies the intercalary month to often occur chinese calendar for gender after the second through the ninth months, but rarely after chinese calendar yu lan the tenth through first months. A few autumn-winter chinese lunar birth calendar periods have one or two calendar months where the sun enters two signs of the zodiac, interspersed with two or three calendar pregnancy chinese calendar due date months where the sun stays within one sign.
The Chinese 2003 calendar chinese use of the seven day week (and thus chinese calendar baby gender its use in the Korean, Japanese, Tibetan, and Vietnamese systems), as used in the Babylonian chinese calendar years calendar, was due to introduction by Jesuits in the 16th century. As a chinese lunar calendar - baby result, the Babylonian names chinese lunar calendar birth prediction were preserved in the names used in Japanese. Thus when the 19th century Japanese encountered Europeans for the first chinese new year american calendar time, they were surprised to find their own gender predictor chinese calendar free names for the days of the week corresponded to European names. They gregorian to jewish islamic chinese calendar conversions were in fact better preservations of the wholesale chinese calendars original Babylonian concepts, the English day names having been conflated with heroes from Norse mythology. By contrast, 2006 calendar chinese new year the Japanese names refer to the Chinese Sun, Moon, and the five planets (named after the Five Elements rather 2006 chinese new year calendar than pagan gods). 
Commonly, the days 2006 year of chinese calendar of the week are given numbers and are known by them; ex Monday is day one 2007 chinese crested engagement calendar of the week, Tuesday is Day 2, Wednesday is day 3, Thursday is ancient chinese calendar day 4, Friday is day 5, Saturday ancient chinese calendars is day 6, however Sunday is baby calendar chinese determine gender the day of the Sun. Sunday is the only day which does not continue with the pattern of the baby gender prediction chinese calendar days of the week. The day numbers from Monday calendar chinese download to Saturday are the same as in ISO 8601. Since chinese birthday calendar predict baby genders most Chinese people have had weekly day off on Sundays in the chinese calendar clear bright modern time, having Monday as day one of the week corresponds to the common chinese calendar gender industrial and commercial practices, although many Chinese calendars show Sunday as the first day of chinese crested calendar a week.
The Gregorian Reform and the 1929 time change
The Gregorian calendar was chinese lunar calendar health adopted by the nascent Republic of China effective January 1, chinese new year and calendar symbols 1912 for official business, but the general populace continued to use chinese prediction calendar the traditional calendar. The status of the Gregorian 1967 chinese calendar calendar was unclear between 1916 and 1921 while China was controlled by several competing warlords. From 2007 chinese calendar taiwan about 1921 until 1928 warlords continued to fight over northern China, but the Kuomintang or Nationalist government controlled accurancy of chinese gender prediction calendar southern China and used the Gregorian baby gender prediction + chinese calendar calendar. After the Kuomintang reconstituted the Republic of China October 10, 1928, birthday calendar chinese the Gregorian calendar was officially adopted, effective 1 January 1929. Along with this, the time zone calendar chinese choosing date wedding for the whole country chinese baby due date calendar was adjusted to the coastal time zone that had been chinese calendar birthday match used in European treaty ports along the Chinese coast since 1904. This changed the beginning of each calendar chinese calendar conversions day, for both the traditional and chinese calendar for conception Gregorian calendars, by plus 14 minutes and 26 seconds from Beijing midnight to midnight at chinese calendar free download the longitude 120° east of Greenwich.
This caused some discrepancies, such as chinese calendar history with the 1978 Mid-Autumn Festival. There was a new moon on September 3, 1978, at chinese gender conception calendar 00:07, Chinese Standard Time. Using the old Beijing timezone, the New Moon occurred at 23:53 chinese lunar calendar and pregnancy accuracy on the 2nd, so the eighth chinese new years calendar month began on a different day in the calendars. Thus people in Hong Kong (using the traditional calendar) celebrated the chinese pregnancy calendars Festival on 16 September, but those in mainland China celebrated chinese pregnancy due date calendar on 17 September.  (see page 18)
The following rules outline free chinese baby calendar the Chinese calendar since c.104 BC. Note that the rules gender chinese calendar allow either mean or true motions of the Sun and Moon to how to make a chinese new year calendar be used, depending on the historical period.
- The months labor of love and chinese lunar calendar are lunar months. This means the first day of each month beginning at midnight is the day what year is 2006 in chinese calendar of the astronomical new moon. 2007 chinese crested calendar (Note, however, that a "day" in the Chinese calendar begins at 11 p.m. and not at midnight)
- Each year 2007 chinese zodiac calendar has 12 regular months, which are numbered in sequence (1 to 12) and have alternative names. accuracy of chinese calendar Every second or third baby calendar chinese year has an intercalary month (閏月 rùnyuè), which may come after any regular month. It has the same number baby predictor chinese calendar as the preceding regular month, but is designated calendar chinese fertily pregnancy intercalary.
- Every other jiéqì of the Chinese calendar chinese free pregnancy solar year is equivalent to an entry of the sun into a sign of the tropical calendar chinese lunar new year zodiac (a principal term or cusp).
- The sun always passes the winter solstice (enters Capricorn) during month 11.
- If there are 12 chinese astrological calendar months between two chinese baby prediction calendar successive occurrences of month 11, at least one of these 12 months must be a month during which the sun chinese bamboo calendars remains within the same zodiac sign throughout (no principal term or cusp occurs chinese birth predictor calendar within it). If only one such month occurs, it chinese calendar 2006 to print is designated intercalary, but if two such months chinese calendar and pregnancy occur, only the first is designated intercalary.
- The times of the astronomical new moons and the sun chinese calendar baby gender predictor entering a zodiac sign are determined in the Chinese Time Zone by the Purple chinese calendar baby predictor Mountain Observatory (紫金山天文台 Zǐjīnshān Tiānwéntái) outside Nanjing chinese calendar birth using modern astronomical equations.
The zodiac sign which the sun chinese calendar gender prediction enters during the month and the ecliptic longitude of that entry point usually determine the number of a regular month. Month chinese calendar predictor due date 1, zhēngyuè, literally means principal month. All other months are chinese calendar year of the dog double spring literally numbered, second month, third month, etc.
Some believe chinese calendar year of the dragon chinese calendars information for kids chinese character-a-day calendar chinese dates and back calendar hicalendar system file the above correspondence to be chinese due date calendar always true, but there are exceptions, which, for example, prevent Chinese New chinese genda calendar Year from always being the second new moon after the winter solstice, or that chinese gender predictions, calendars cause the holiday to occur after the Rain Water jieqi. An exception will occur in 2033-2034, when the chinese horoscope and calendar winter solstice is the second solar term in the eleventh month. chinese lunar calendar and pregnancy The next month is a no-entry month and so chinese lunar calendar baby gender is intercalary, and a twelfth month follows which contains both the chinese lunar calendar gender predictor Aquarius and Pisces solar terms (deep cold and rain water). The Year of the Tiger thus begins chinese new year 2005 calendar on the chinese perdict calendar third new moon following the Winter Solstice, and also occurs after the Pisces (rain water) jieqi, free chinese calendar on February 19.
Another occurrence was in 1984-85, after the free chinese calendar for pregnancy sun had entered both Capricorn at 270° and Aquarius at 300° in month 11, and then entered Pisces at 330° during the free chinese gender calendar next month, which should have caused it to be month 1. The how to determine the sex of the baby using chinese calendar sun did my birthday chinese calendar not enter any sign during the next month. In order to keep the winter predict babys gender chinese fortune calendar solstice in month 11, the month which should have been month 1 became month 12, and the month thereafter became print of 2006 chinese calendar month 1, causing Chinese New www chinese baby due date calendar Year to occur on 20 February 1985 after the sun had already passed into Pisces at 330° during the previous month, rather than during the month beginning on that day.
On those occasions when a dual-entry month does occur, it always occurs somewhere between two months that do not have any entry (non-entry months). It usually occurs alone and either includes the winter solstice or is nearby, thus placing the winter solstice in month 11 (rule 4) chooses which of the two non-entry months becomes the intercalary month. In 1984-85, the month immediately before the dual-entry month 11 was a non-entry month which was designated as an intercalary month 10. All months from the dual-entry month to the non-entry month that is not to be intercalary are sequentially numbered with the nearby regular months (rule 2). The last phrase of rule 5, choosing the first of two non-entry months between months 11, has not been required since the last calendar reform, and will not be necessary until the 2033-34 occasion, when two dual-entry months will be interspersed among three non-entry months, two of which will be on one side of month 11. The leap eleventh month produced is a very rare occasion. See  for details.
Exceptions such as these are rare. Fully 96.6% of all months contain only one entry into a zodiacal sign (have one principal term or cusp), all obeying the numbering rules of the jiéqì table, and 3.0% of all months are intercalary months (always non-entry months between principal terms or cusps). Only 0.4% of all months either are dual-entry months (have two principal terms or cusps) or are neighboring months that are renumbered.
It is only after the 1645 reform that this situation arose. Then it became necessary to fix one month to always contain its principal term and allow any other to occasionally not contain its principal term. Month 11 was chosen, because its principal term (the winter solstice) forms the start of the Chinese Solar year (the sui).
The Chinese lunar calendar and the Gregorian Calendar often sync up every 19 years (Metonic cycle). Most Chinese people notice that their Chinese and Western birthdays often fall on the same day on their 19th, 38th birthday etc. However, a 19-year cycle with a certain set of intercalary months is only an approximation, so an almost identical pattern of intercalary months in subsequent cycles will eventually change after some multiple of 19 years to a quite different 19-year cycle.
The Chinese zodiac (see Nomenclature and Twelve Animals sections) is only used in naming years—it is not used in the actual calculation of the calendar. In fact, the Chinese have a very different constellation system.
The twelve months are closely connected with agriculture, so they are alternatively named after plants:
- Primens (first month) 正月: Latin "primus mensis".
- Apricomens (apricot month) 杏月: apricot blossoms.
- Peacimens (peach month) 桃月: peach blossoms.
- Plumens (plum month) 梅月: mei ripens.
- Guavamens (guava month) 榴月: pomegranate blossoms.
- Lotumens (lotus month) 荷月: lotus blossoms.
- Orchimens (orchid month) 蘭月: orchid blossoms.
- Osmanthumens (osmanthus month) 桂月: osmanthus blossoms.
- Chrysanthemens (chrysanthemum month) 菊月: chrysanthemum blossoms.
- Benimens (good month) 良月: good month.
- Hiemens (hiemal month) 冬月: hiemal month.
- Lamens (last month) 臘月: last month.
Traditional Chinese years were not continuously numbered in the way that the BC/AD system is. More commonly, official year counting always used some form of a regnal year. This system began in 841 BC during the Zhou dynasty. Prior to this, years were not marked at all, and historical events cannot be dated exactly.
In 841 BC, the Li King Hu of Zhou (周厲王胡) was ousted by a civilian uprising (國人暴動), and the country was governed for the next fourteen years by a council of senior ministers, a period known as the Regency (共和行政). In this period, years were marked as First (second, third, etc) Year of the Regency.
Subsequently, years were marked as regnal years, e.g. the year 825 BC was marked as the 3rd Year of the Xuan King Jing of Zhou (周宣王三年). This system was used until early in the Han dynasty, when the Wen Emperor of Han (漢文帝劉恒) instituted regnal names. After this, most emperors used one or more regnal names to mark their reign. Usually, the emperor would institute a new name upon accession to the throne, and then change to new names to mark significant events, or to end a perceived cycle of bad luck. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, however, each emperor usually used only one regnal name for their reign.
This system continued until the Republic of China, which counted years as Years of the Republic, beginning in 1912. Thus, 1912 is the 1st Year of the Republic, and 1948 the 37th. This system is still used for official purposes in Taiwan. For the rest of China, in 1949 the People's Republic of China chose to use the Common Era system (equivalently, AD/BC system), in line with international standards.
The stem-branch cycle
The other system by which years are marked historically in China was by the stem-branch or sexagenary cycle. This system is based on two forms of counting: a cycle of 10 Heavenly Stems and a cycle of 12 Earthly Branches. Each year is named by a pair of one stem and one branch called a Stem-Branch (干支 gānzhī). The Heavenly Stems are associated with Yin Yang and the Five Elements. Recent 10-year periods began in 1984, 1994, and 2004. The Earthly Branches are associated with the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Each Earthly Branch is also associated with an animal, collectively known as the Twelve Animals. Recent 12-year periods began in 1984 and 1996.
Since the numbers 10 (Heavenly Stems) and 12 (Earthly Branches) have a common factor of 2, only 1/2 of the 120 possible stem-branch combinations actually occur. The resulting 60-year (or sexagesimal) cycle takes the name jiǎzǐ (甲子) after the first year in the cycle, being the Heavenly Stem of "jiǎ" and Earthly Branch of "zǐ". The term "jiǎzǐ" is used figuratively to mean "a full lifespan"—one who has lived more than a jiǎzǐ is obviously blessed. (Compare the Biblical "three-score years and ten.")
At first, this system was used to mark days, not years. The earliest evidence of this were found on oracle bones dated c.1350 BC in Shang Dynasty. This system of date marking continues to this day, and can still be found on Chinese calendars today. Although a stem-branch cannot be used to deduce the actual day in historical events, it can assist in converting Chinese dates to other calendars more accurately.
Around the Han Dynasty, the stem-branch cycle also began to be used to mark years. The 60-year system cycles continuously, and determines the animal or sign under which a person is born (see Chinese Zodiac). These cycles were not named, and were used in conjunction with regnal names declared by the Emperor. For example: 康熙壬寅 (Kāngxī rényín) (1662 AD) is the first 壬寅 (rényín) year during the reign of 康熙 (Kāngxī), regnal name of an emperor of the Qing Dynasty
The months and hours can also be denoted using Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, though they are commonly addressed using Chinese numerals instead. In Chinese astrology, four Stem-Branch pairs form the Eight Characters (八字 bāzì).
As mentioned under Legendary beginnings above, there is no universally agreed upon "epoch" or starting point for the Chinese calendar. Tradition holds that the calendar was invented by Huang Di (黄帝) in the 61st year of his reign in what is now known under the proleptic Gregorian calendar as 2637 BCE. Many have used this date as "the" beginning of the Chinese calendar, but others have used the date of the beginning of his reign in 2697 BCE. Since these dates are exactly 60 years apart, it does not matter which is used to determine the stem/branch sequence or the astrological sign for any succeeding year. That is, 2006 is a bingxu year and the Year of the Dog regardless of whether years are counted from 2637 BCE or 2697 BCE.
For the most part, the imposition of a continuous numbering system on the Chinese calendar was of interest mostly to Jesuit missionaries and other Westerners who assumed that calendars obviously had to be continuous. However, in the early 20th century, some Chinese Republicans began to advocate widespread use of continuously numbered stem-branch cycles, so that year markings could be independent of the Emperor's regnal name. (This was part of their attempt to delegitimise the Qing Dynasty.) To this end, Sun Yat-sen identified 2698 BCE as the first year of the first cycle, and this choice was adopted by many overseas Chinese communities outside southeast Asia such as San Francisco's Chinatown. Modern chronologists believe, however, that 2698 BCE is an error (perhaps due to confusion surrounding calendar arithmetic which crosses "year 0") for the 2697 BCE epoch corresponding to the sexagesimal cycles.
If 2637 is used as the epoch, we are currently (as of 2006) in the 78th 60-year cycle since Huang Di, and 2006 is the 4643rd year. If 2697 is used as the epoch, we are in the 79th 60-year cycle, and 2006 is the 4703rd year. Perhaps because of the lingering influence of Sun Yat-sen's choice, and despite the traditional identification of 2637 as the beginning of the calendar, most references today lean towards the other interpretation, stating that we are in the 79th cycle and listing "Chinese year" numbers in the vicinity of 4703. (Adding to the confusion, a few people take Sun Yat-sen's choice of 2698 literally, and claim that 2006 is the 4704th year, although this correspondence does not synchronize properly with the 60-year cycle.) Of course, to most Chinese people terms such as "year 4703" are meaningless, since the calendar counts only in unnumbered cycles of 60.
Correspondence between systems
This table shows the stem/branch year names, correspondences to the Western (Gregorian) calendar, and other related information for the current decade. (These years are all part of the 79th sexagenary cycle, or the 78th if an epoch of 2637 BCE is accepted.) Or see this larger table of the full 60-year cycle.
|Jiǎzǐ (甲子) sequence
||Year of the... [Note 1]
||Continuous [Note 2]
||Gregorian [Note 3]
||New Year's Day (chūnjié, 春節)
[Note 1: The beginning of each zodiac year should correspond to day of "the Beginning of Spring" (立春) (see jiéqì), not the first day of the lunar month. For example, the year of Fire Dog begins on February 4, 2006, rather than January 29.]
[Note 2: As discussed above, there is considerable difficulty in establishing a basis for the chronology of the continuous year numbers. The numbers listed here are too high by 60 if an epoch of 2637 BCE is accepted. They may be too low by 1 if an epoch of 2698 BCE is accepted. That is, according to some sources, Gregorian 2006 could alternatively correspond to 4643, or perhaps 4704.]
[Note 3: In any case, the correspondence between a lunisolar Chinese year and a solar Gregorian year is of course not exact. The first few months of each Gregorian year—those preceding Chinese New Year—belong to the previous Chinese year. For example, January 1 – January 28 of 2006 correspond to yǐyǒu or 4702. Thus, it might be more precise to state that Gregorian 2006 corresponds to 4702–4703, or that continuous Chinese 4703 corresponds to 2006–2007.]
Solar year versus lunar year
There is a distinction between a solar year and a lunar year in the Chinese calendar because the calendar is lunisolar. A lunar year (年 nián) is from one Chinese new year to the next. A solar year (歲 suì) is either the period between one Spring Equinox and the next or the period between two winter solstices (see Jiéqì section). A lunar year is exclusively used for dates, whereas a solar year, especially that between winter solstices, is used to number the months.
Hours of the day
Under the traditional system of hour-marking, each day is divided into 12 hours (時辰). Each of these "hours" is equivalent to two hours of international time. Each is named after one of the twelve Earthly Branches. The first hour, Hour of Zi (子時), begins at 11 p.m. of the previous day and ends at 1 a.m. Traditionally, executions of condemned prisoners occur at the Hour of Wu (午時), that is around midday.
A second system subdivided the day into 100 equal parts, ke, each of which equalling 14.4 minutes or a familiar rough quarter of a standard Western hour. This was valid for centuries, making the Chinese first to apply decimal time - long before the French revolution. However, because 100 could not be divided equally into the 12 "hours", the system was changed to variously 96, 108, and 120 ke in a day. During the Qing Dynasty, the number was officially settled at 96, making each ke exactly a quarter of a Western hour. Today, ke is often used to refer to a quarter of an hour.
The Chinese zodiac
- main article: Chinese_Astrology
The Twelve animals (十二生肖 shí'èr shēngxiào, or colloquially 十二屬相 shí'èr shǔxiàng) representing the twelve Earthly Branches are, in order, the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
A legend explains the sequence in which the animals were assigned. Supposedly, the twelve animals fought over the precedence of the animals in the cycle of years in the calendar, so the Chinese gods held a contest to determine the order. All the animals lined up on the bank of a river and were given the task of getting to the opposite shore. Their order in the calendar would be set by the order in which the animals managed to reach the other side. The cat wondered how he would get across if he was afraid of water. At the same time, the ox wondered how he would cross with his poor eyesight. The calculating rat suggested that he and the cat jump onto the ox's back and guide him across. The ox was steady and hard-working so that he did not notice a commotion on his back. In the meanwhile, the rat snuck up behind the unsuspecting cat and shoved him into the water. Just as the ox came ashore, the rat jumped off and finished the race first. The lazy pig came to the far shore in twelfth place. And so the rat got the first year named after him, the ox got the second year, and the pig ended up as the last year in the cycle. The cat finished too late to win any place in the calendar, and vowed to be the enemy of the rat forevermore.
See the table under Correspondence between systems above for the animal names of current and nearby years. See Chinese zodiac for more details.
Chinese months follow the phases of the moon. As a result, they do not accurately follow the seasons of the solar year. To assist farmers to help farmers decide when to plant or harvest crops, the drafters of the calendar put in 24 seasonal markers, which follow the solar year, and are called jiéqì 節氣.
The term Jiéqì is usually translated as "Solar Terms" (lit. Nodes of Weather). Each node is the instant when the sun reaches one of twenty-four equally spaced points along the ecliptic, including the solstices and equinoxes, positioned at fifteen degree intervals. Because the calculation is solar-based, these jiéqì fall around the same date every year in solar calendars (e.g. the Gregorian Calendar), but do not form any obvious pattern in the Chinese calendar. The dates below are approximate and may vary slightly from year to year due to the intercalary rules (i.e. system of leap years) of the Gregorian calendar. Jiéqì are published each year in farmers' almanacs. Chinese New Year is usually the new moon closest to lìchūn.
In the table below, these measures are given in the standard astronomical convention of ecliptic longitude, zero degrees being positioned at the vernal equinox point. Each calendar month under the heading "M" contains the designated jiéqì called a principal term, which is an entry into a sign of the zodiac, also known as a cusp. Here term has the archaic meaning of a limit, not a duration. In Chinese astronomy, seasons are centered on the solstices and equinoxes, whereas in the standard Western definition, they begin at the solstices and equinoxes. Thus the term Beginning of Spring and the related Spring Festival fall in February, when it is still very chilly in temperate latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere.
||start of spring
||spring starts here according to the Chinese definition of a season
||starting at this point, the temperature makes rain more likely than snow
||awakening of insects
||when hibernating insects awake
||lit. the central divide of spring (referring to the Chinese seasonal definition)
||clear and bright
||a Chinese festival where, traditionally, ancestral graves are tended
||rain helps grain grow
||start of summer
||refers to the Chinese seasonal definition
||grains are plump
||grain in ear
||lit. awns (beard of grain) grow
||lit. summer extreme (of sun's height)
||when heat starts to get unbearable
||the hottest time of the year
||start of autumn
||uses the Chinese seasonal definition
||limit of heat
||lit. dwell in heat
||condensed moisture makes dew white; a sign of autumn
||lit. central divide of autumn (refers to the Chinese seasonal definition)
||dew starts turning into frost
||descent of frost
||appearance of frost and descent of temperature
||start of winter
||refers to the Chinese seasonal definition
||snow starts falling
||season of snowstorms in full swing
||lit. winter extreme (of sun's height)
||cold starts to become unbearable
||coldest time of year
Note: The third jiéqì was originally called 啓蟄 (qǐzhé) but renamed to 驚蟄 (jīngzhé) in the era of the Emperor Jing of Han (漢景帝) to avoid writing his given name 啓 (also written as 啟, a variant of 啓).
The "Song of Solar Terms" (節氣歌; pinyin: jiéqìgē) is used to ease the memorization of jiéqì:
- 春雨驚春清穀天 chūn yǔ jīng chūn qīng gǔ tiān,
- 夏滿芒夏暑相連 xià mǎn máng xià shǔ xiāng lián,
- 秋處露秋寒霜降 qiū chù lù qiū hán shuāng jiàng,
- 冬雪雪冬小大寒 dōng xuě xuě dōng xiǎo dà hán.
- 每月兩節不變更 měi yuè liǎng jié bù biàn gēng,
- 最多相差一兩天 zùi duō xiāng chā yī liǎng tiān
- 上半年來六、廿一 shàng bàn nián lái liù, niàn yī
- 下半年是八、廿三 xià bàn nián shì bā, niàn sān
The Chinese calendar year has nine main festivals, seven determined by the lunisolar calendar, and the other two derived from the solar agricultural calendar. (Note that the farmers actually used a solar calendar, and its twenty-four terms, to determine when to plant crops, due to the inaccuracy of the lunisolar traditional calendar. However, the traditional calendar has also come to be known as the agricultural calendar.)
The two special holidays are the Tomb-Sweeping Festival (Qingming Festival and the Winter Solstice Festival, falling upon the respective solar terms, the former occurring at ecliptic longitude 15 degrees, the latter at 270 degrees. As for all other calendrical calculations, the calculations use civil time in China, eight hours ahead of UTC.
|Chinese New Year,
lit. Spring Festival
|Family gathering and major festivities for three days; traditionally 15 days
lit. Clear and Bright Festival
|A day for tomb sweeping
|Dragon Boat Festival
|Dragon boat racing
and zhongzi eating
|The Night of Sevens,
|A festival for lovers, equivalent to Valentine's Day
or Spirit Festival
|A festival to offer tributes and respect to the deceased
or Moon Festival
and moon cake eating
May be referred to as the Lantern Festival, similar in name to a different festival which falls on the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year
|Double Ninth Festival,
lit. Double Yang Festival
and flower shows
|Xia Yuan Festival,
|Pray for a peaceful year to the Water God
|Winter Solstice Festival
Purpose of the intercalary months
Most people, upon using or studying the Chinese calendar, are perplexed by the intercalary month because of its seemingly unpredictable nature. As mentioned above, the intercalary month refers to additional months added to the calendar in some years to correct for its deviation from the astronomical year, a function similar to that of the extra day in February in leap years.
However, because of the complex astronomical knowledge required to calculate if and when an intercalary month needs to be inserted, to most people, it is simply a mystery. This has led to a superstition that intercalary months in certain times of the year bring bad luck.
The main purpose of the intercalary month is to correct for deviations of the calendrical year from the astronomical year. Because the Chinese calendar is mainly a lunar calendar, its standard year is 354 days, whereas the astronomical year is approximately 365¼ days. Without the intercalary month, this deviation would build up over time, and the Spring festival, for example, would no longer fall in Spring. Thus, the intercalary month serves a valuable purpose in ensuring that the year in the Chinese calendar remains approximately in line with the astronomical year.
The intercalary month is inserted whenever the Chinese calendar moves too far from the stage of progression of the earth in its orbit. Thus, for example, if the beginning of a certain month in the Chinese calendar deviates by a certain number of days from its equivalent in a solar calendar, an intercalary month needs to be inserted.
The practical benefit of this system is that the calendar is able to approximately keep in pace with the solar cycle, while at the same time retaining months that roughly correspond with lunar cycles. Hence the term lunisolar calendar. The latter is important because many traditional festivals correspond to significant events in the moon's cycle. For example, the mid-autumn festival is always on a day of the full moon.
The relevance of the calendar today
There have been calls for reform in recent years from experts in China, because of the increasing irrelevance of the Chinese calendar in modern life. They point to the example in Japan, where during the Meiji Restoration the nation adopted the Western calendar, and simply shifted all traditional festivitives onto an equivalent date. However, the Chinese calendar remains important as an element of cultural tradition, and for certain cultural activities.
The original practical relevance of the lunisolar calendar for date marking has largely disappeared. First, the Gregorian calendar is more accurate and more in line with both international standards and the astronomical year. Its adoption for official purposes has meant that the traditional calendar is rarely used for date marking. This, in turn, means that it is more convenient to remember significant events such as birth dates by the Gregorian rather than the Chinese calendar.
Second, the 24 solar terms were important to farmers who would not be able to plan agricultural activities without foreknowledge of these terms. However, the 24 solar terms (including the solstices and equinoxes) are more predictable on the Gregorian calendar than the lunisolar calendar since they are based on the solar cycle. It is easier for the average Chinese farmer to organise their planting and harvesting with the Gregorian calendar.
However, the Chinese calendar remains culturally essential. For example, most of the traditional festivals, such as Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival, traditionally occur at new moon or full moon. Furthermore, the traditional Chinese calendar, as an element of traditional culture, is invested with much cultural and nationalistic sentiment.
The calendar is still used in the more traditional Chinese households around the world to pick 'lucky dates' for important events such as weddings, funerals, and business deals. A special calendar is used for this purpose, called Huang Li, literally "Imperial Calendar", which contains auspicious activities, times, and directions for each day. The calendar follows the Gregorian dates but has the corresponding Chinese dates. Every date would have a comprehensive listing of astrological measurements and fortune elements.
Thus, while the traditional calendar could be removed without much practical effect, its sentimental and cultural significance will probably see its retention for some time yet.
Other traditional East Asian calendars are very similar to if not identical to the Chinese calendar: the Korean calendar is identical; the Vietnamese calendar substitutes the cat for the rabbit in the Chinese zodiac; the Tibetan calendar differs slightly in animal names, and the traditional Japanese calendar uses a different method of calculation, resulting in disagreements between the calendars in some years.
In 1258, when both China and the Islamic world were part of the Mongol Empire, Hulagu Khan established an observatory in Maragheh for the astronomer Nasir al-Din al-Tusi at which a few Chinese astronomers were present, resulting in the Chinese-Uighur calendar that al-Tusi describes in his Zij-i Ilkhani. The twelve year cycle, including Turkish/Mongolian translations of the animal names (known as sanawat-e turki سنوات ترکی,) remained in use for chronology, historiography, and bureaucratic purposes in the Persian and Turkish speaking world from Asia Minor to India throughout the Medieval and Early Modern periods. In Iran it remained common in agricultural records and tax assessments until a 1925 law deprecated its use.
- ^ Živa Vesel. Van Dalen 2006
- Živa Vesel. Van Dalen, Benno, « Islamic and Chinese Astronomy under the Mongols: a Little-Known Case of Transmission », in : Yvonne Dold-Samplonius, Joseph W. Dauben, Menso Folkerts & Benno van Dalen, éds., From China to Paris. 2000 Years Transmission of Mathematical Ideas. Series: Boethius 46, Stuttgart (Steiner), 2002, pp. 327-356., Abstracta Iranica [En ligne], Volume 25, mis en ligne le : 15 mars 2006. URL http://abstractairanica.revues.org/document4985.html. Consulté le 29 juillet 2006.
- Rules for the Chinese Calendar
- The Structure of the Chinese Calendar
- Chinese Zodiac Chart Find your Chinese Zodiac sign based on your date of birth.
- Calendar Conversion
- Chinese Calendrics Windows software, converts all dates
- Gregorian-Chinese calendar converterOnline: only for the republican age (after 1912)
- Two Thousand Year Chinese Calendar Converter (in Chinese) - works for all dates from the Han Dynasty until 2100
- Pages from the Hong Kong Observatory website
- The 24 Solar Terms of Jieqi
- Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches
- Gregorian-Lunar Calendar Conversion Table
- Chinese Lunar Calendar 2006
Categories: Chinese astronomy | Korean culture | Specific calendars