Chinese calendar

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Liùyuè, Bǐngshēnnián
廿 二
Mon, Jul 25, 2016
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30
Mǎozhèng 1 kè
06:25:45 36:47
A combination calendar, with Gregorian system below and a Chinese zodiac chart above.

The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar which reckons years, months and days according to astronomical phenomena. It is used for traditional activities in China and overseas Chinese communities. It determines the dates of traditional Chinese holidays, and guides Chinese people in selecting the luckiest days for weddings, funerals, moving, or beginning a business.

In the Chinese calendar, the days begin and end at midnight. The months begin on the day with the dark (new) moon. The years begin with the dark moon near the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox. The solar terms are the important components of the Chinese calendar. There are one to three solar terms within a month.

The present Chinese calendar is the product of centuries of evolution. Many astronomical and seasonal factors were added by ancient scientists, and people can reckon the date of natural phenomena such as the moon phase and tide upon the Chinese calendar. The Chinese calendar has over 100 variants, whose characteristics reflect the calendar's evolutionary path. As with Chinese characters, different variants are used in different parts of the Chinese cultural sphere. In Korea, Vietnam, and the Ryukyu Islands, the Chinese calendar was adopted completely. In Japan, the Chinese calendar was used before the Edo period, and the later Japanese calendar used the algorithm of the Chinese calendar.

The official calendar in China is the Gregorian calendar, but the traditional Chinese calendar plays an important role there. The Chinese calendar is known officially as the Rural Calendar (traditional Chinese: 農曆; simplified Chinese: 农历; pinyin: Nónglì), but is often referred to by other names, such as the Former Calendar (traditional Chinese: 舊曆; simplified Chinese: 旧历; pinyin: Jiùlì), the Traditional Calendar (traditional Chinese: 老曆; simplified Chinese: 老历; pinyin: Lǎolì), or the Lunar Calendar (traditional Chinese: 陰曆; simplified Chinese: 阴历; pinyin: Yīnlì).



Several coding systems are used for some special circumstances in order to avoid ambiguity, such as continuous day or year count.

  • The heavenly stems is a decimal system. The characters of the heavenly stems are: jiǎ, yǐ, bǐng, dīng, wù, jǐ, gēng, xīn, rén, guì (Chinese: 甲乙丙丁戊己庚辛壬癸).
  • The earthly branches is a duodecimal system. The characters of the earthly branches are: zǐ, chǒu, yín, mǎo, chén, sì, wǔ, wèi, shēn, yǒu, xū, hài (Chinese: 子丑寅卯辰巳午未申酉戌亥). The earthly branches are used to mark the shí and climate terms usually.
  • The stem-branches is a sexagesimal system. The heavenly stems and earthly branches match together and form stem-branches. The stem-branches are used to mark the continuous day and year.

Day, hour, and week[edit]

In the Chinese calendar, the days begin at midnight and end at the next midnight, but people tend to regard the days as beginning at dawn.

Currently, the time in days are scaled with hour-minute-second system.
In ancient China, the time is divided according to either the shí-kè and gēng-diǎn systems. There are 12 shí and 100 or 10 gēng and 60 diǎn or 6000 fēn in a day. For example:

The current Chinese standard time is 06:25:45 or 36:47 (Mǎozhèng 1 kè).Purge

Currently, the days are grouped into 7-day weeks and the weekdays are marked with the ordinal number except Sunday.

Chinese Weekdays
Style 1 Style 2
漢字 Meaning Pinyin 漢字 Meaning 読み Japanese 한글 Korean
Sunday 星期日 or 星期天 Iconic day of the week Xīngqī/qí rì 日曜日 Sun day にち よぅび Nichi yōbi 일 요일 Il yoil
Monday 星期一 First day of the week Xīngqī/qí yī 月曜日 Moon day げつ よぅび Getsu yōbi 월 요일 Wol yoil
Tuesday 星期二 Second day of the week Xīngqī/qí èr 火曜日 Mars day か よぅび Ka yōbi 화 요일 Hwa yoil
Wednesday 星期三 Third day of the week Xīngqī/qí sān 水曜日 Mercury day すい よぅび Sui yōbi 수 요일 Su yoil
Thursday 星期四 Fourth day of the week Xīngqī/qí sì 木曜日 Jupiter day もく よぅび Moku yōbi 목 요일 Mog yoil
Friday 星期五 Fifth day of the week Xīngqī/qí wǔ 金曜日 Venus day きん よぅび Kin yōbi 금 요일 Geum yoil
Saturday 星期六 Sixth day of the week Xīngqī/qí liù 土曜日 Saturn day ど よぅび Do yōbi 토 요일 To yoil

In ancient China, the days were grouped into 10-day weeks with the stems, 12-day weeks with the branches, or 9/10-day weeks(Chinese: ; pinyin: xún) with the date in the month.

The ten-day week was used in antiquity (reportedly as early as in the Bronze Age Xia Dynasty).[1]

The law in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220) required officials of the empire to rest every five days, called mu (沐), while it was changed into 10 days in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 – 907), called huan (澣/浣) or xún (旬).

Months were almost three weeks long (alternating 29 and 30 days to keep in line with the lunation). As a practice, the months are divided into 3 xún. The first 10 days is the early xún (Chinese: 上旬), the middle 10 days is the mid xún (Chinese: 中旬), and the last 9 or 10 days is the late xún (Chinese: 下旬).

Markets in Japan followed the Chinese jun (旬) system; see Japanese calendar. In Korea, it was called "Sun" (순,旬).


Months begin on the day of the dark moon, and end on the day before the next dark moon. There are 29 or 30 days in a month, and the same month can have different lengths in different years. A month with 30 days is called a long month (Chinese: 大月), and a month with 29 days is called a short month (Chinese: 小月). The days of the month are numbered beginning with 1, and in Chinese the day's number is always written with two characters, such as Chūyī (Chinese: 初一) for 1, Shíwǔ (Chinese: 十五) for 15, and Niànsān (Chinese: 廿三) for 23.

Relation between moon phases and dates[edit]

The first day of each month is the day with dark moon. In the 7th or 8th day of each month, the first quarter moon is visible in the afternoon and early evening. In the 15th or 16th day of each month, the full moon is visible all night, and in the 22nd or 23rd day of each month, the last quarter moon is visible late at night and in the morning.

Solar year and solar term[edit]

See also: Solar term

In the Chinese calendar, the solar year (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: ; pinyin: Suì) is the time from a winter solstice to the next winter solstice. The solar year is divided into 24 solar terms, which correspond to intervals of fifteen degrees along the ecliptic. Two solar terms are associated with each climate term. The beginning of the first term in each climate term is labelled "pre-climate" (traditional Chinese: 節氣; simplified Chinese: 节气; pinyin: Jiéqì), and the beginning of the last term in each couple is labelled "mid-climate" (traditional Chinese: 中氣; simplified Chinese: 中气; pinyin: Zhōngqì).

The ecliptic position of each solar term
Climate Term Solar term Date Longitude Zodiac Climate Term Solar term Date Longitude Zodiac
Yín (寅)
Early Spring
VC, Vernal Commences Feb 3-5 315° Aquarius Shēn (申)
Early Autumn
AC, Autumn Commences Aug 7-9 135° Leo
VS, Vernal Showers Feb 18-20 330° 330-360°
EH, End of Heat Aug 22-24 150° 150-180°
Mǎo (卯)
Mid Spring
IA, Insects Waken Mar 5-7 345° Yǒu (酉)
Mid Autumn
WD, White Dew Sep 7-9 165°
VE, Vernal Equinox Mar 20-22 360°/0° 0-30°
AE, Autumnal Equinox Sep 22-24 180° 180-210°
Chén (辰)
Late Spring
BC, Bright and Clear Apr 4-6 15° (戌)
Late Autumn
CD, Cold Dew Oct 8-9 195°
CR, Corn Rain Apr 19-21 30° 30-60°
FF, First Frost Oct 23-24 210° 210-240°
Early Summer
SC, Summer Commences May 5–7 45° Hài (亥)
Early Winter
WC,Winter Commences Nov 7-8 225°
CF, Corn Forms May 20–22 60° 60-90°
LS, Light Snow Nov 22-23 240° 240-270°
Mid Summer
CE, Corn on Ear Jun 5-7 75° (子)
Mid Winter
HS, Heavy Snow Dec 6-8 255°
SS, Summer Solstice Jun 21-22 90° 90-120°
WS, Winter Solstice Dec 21-23 270° 270-300°
Wèi (未)
Late Summer
MH, Moderate Heat Jul 6-8 105° Chǒu (丑)
Late Winter
MC, Moderate Cold Jan 5-7 285°
GH, Great Heat Jul 22-24 120° Leo GC, Great Cold Jan 20-21 300° Aquarius

In a solar year, there are 12 or 13 whole months. A year with 12 whole months is a common year. A year with 13 whole months is a leap year, and the first month without a mid-climate is the intercalary month.
The months of the solar year are numbered from zero, except the intercalary month, which follows the number of the previous month.

Relations between solar terms and months[edit]

Interactive chart of the dates of the start of the Chinese year from 1912 to 2101. In the SVG graphic, hover over or click a year on the left to highlight an almost-repeating block of 19 years starting with that year.

Despite the irregularity of month and years in the Chinese calendar, there are some predictable rhythms.

  • In general, the month number corresponds the climate term.
    • The pre-climates are always within 15 days before or after the first day of the corresponding months.
      • The Moderate Cold is always within 15 days before or after of Làyuè 1st(the 0th month),the Vernal Commences is always within 15 days before or after Zhēngyuè 1st(the 1st month);
      • the Insects Waken is always within 15 days before or after Èryuè 1st(the 2nd month), the Bright and Clear is always within 15 days before or after Sānyuè 1st(the 3rd month);
      • the Summer Commences is always within 15 days before or after Sìyuè 1st(the 4th month), the Corn on Ear is always within 15 days before or after Wǔyuè 1st(the 5th month);
      • the Moderate Heat is always within 15 days before or after Liùyuè 1st(the 6th month), the Autumn Commences is always within 15 days before or after Qīyuè 1st(the 7th month);
      • the White Dew is always within 15 days before or after Bāyuè 1st(the 8th month), the Cold Dew is always within 15 days before or after Jiǔyuè 1st(the 9th month);
      • the Winter Commences is always within 15 days before or after Shíyuè 1st(the 10th month), the Heavy Snow is always within 15 days before or after Shíyīyuè 1st(the winter solstice month).
    • The mid-climates are always within the corresponding months.
      • The Great Cold is always within Làyuè, the Vernal Showers is always within Zhēngyuè the Vernal Equinox is always within Èryuè;
      • the Corn Rain is always within Sānyuè, the Corn Forms is always within Sìyuè, the Summer Solstice is always within Wǔyuè;
      • the Moderate Heat is always within Liùyuè, the End of Heat is always within Qīyuè, the Autumnal Equinox is always within Bāyuè;
      • the First Frost is always within Jiǔyuè, the Light Snow is always within Shíyuè, and the Winter solstice is bound to Shíyīyuè.
  • The Chinese calendar follows the Metonic cycle in general.
    • The Chinese date comes at the same day each 19 years later.
      • For example, the pre-climates and mid-climates come at the same Chinese date each 19 years later.
      • The vernal commences is about at the New Year's Day of 1905,1924, 1943, ...; the winter solstice is about at Shíyīyuè 1st of 2014, 2033, 2052,....
The date (Always, Jan 19~Feb18) of the Chinese New Year's Day, 1900-2108[2]
+ 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
J/F Jan Feb Jan Feb Feb Jan Feb Feb Jan Feb Jan Feb Feb Jan Feb Feb Jan Feb
1900 31 19 8 29 16 4 25 13 2 22 10 30 18 6 26 14 3 23 11
1919 1 20 8 28 16 5 24 13 2 23 10 30 17 6 26 14 4 24 11
1938 31 19 8 27 15 5 25 13 2 22 10 29 17 6 27 14 3 24 12
1957 31 18 8 28 15 5 25 13 2 21 9 30 17 6 27 15 3 23 11
1976 31 18 7 28 16 5 25 13 2 20F 9 29 17 6 27 15 4 23 10
1995 31 19 7 28 16 5 24 12 1 22 9 29 18 7 26 14 3 23 10
2014 31 19 8 28 16 5 25 12 1 22 10 29 17 6 26 13 3 23 11
2033 31 19 8 28 15 4 24 12 1 22 10 30 17 6 26 14 2 23 11
2052 1 19 8 28 15 4 24 12 2 21 9 29 17 5 26 14 3 23 11
2071 31 19 7 27 15 5 24 12 2 22 9 29 17 6 26 14 3 24 10
2090 30 18 7 27 15 5 25 12 1 21 9 29 17 7 28 15 4 24 12
Average 31-Jan 19-Jan 8-Feb 28-Jan 15-Feb 4-Feb 24-Jan 12-Feb 2-Feb 22-Jan 9-Feb 29-Jan 17-Feb 6-Feb 26-Jan 14-Feb 3-Feb 23-Jan 11-Feb
2. A representative sequence of common and leap years is lcc lcc lcc lc lcc lcc lc, and intercalary months are about following the 8th, 6th, 4th, 2nd, 7th, 5th, 3rd month in each section.
The intercalary month of the leap year between 1862 and 2108 in the Chinese calendar
Leap 1862~1880 1881~1899 1900~1918 1919~1937 1938~1956 1957~1975 1976~1994 1995~2013 2014~2032 2033~2051 2052~2070 2071~2089 2090~2108
0th year 7/8 1862 8 1881 7 1900 8 1919 7 1938 7 1957 8 1976 8 1995 8 2014 9 2033 11 2052 8 2071 8 2090 8
3rd year 5/6 1865 5 1884 5 1903 5 1922 5 1941 6 1960 6 1979 6 1998 5 2017 6 2036 6 2055 6 2074 6 2093 6
6th year 4 1868 4 1887 4 1906 4 1925 4 1944 4 1963 4 1982 4 2001 4 2020 4 2039 5 2058 4 2077 4 2096 4
8th year 10 1870 10 1984 10
9th year 2/3 1890 2 1909 2 1928 2 1947 2 1966 3 2004 3 2023 2 2042 2 2061 3 2080 3 2099 2
11th year 6/7 1873 6 1892 6 1911 6 1930 6 1949 7 1968 7 1987 6 2006 7 2025 6 2044 7 2063 7 2082 7 2101 7
14th year 5 1876 5 1895 5 1914 5 1933 5 1952 5 1971 5 1990 5 2009 5 2028 5 2047 5 2066 5 2085 5 2104 5
17th year 3/4 1879 3 1898 3 1917 2 1936 3 1955 3 1974 4 1993 3 2012 4 2031 3 2050 3 2069 4 2088 4 2107 4


In the Chinese calendar, the year begins on the first day of the first month, and the first and last month are known as Zhēngyuè (Chinese: 正月) and Làyuè (traditional Chinese: 臘月; simplified Chinese: 腊月), respectively. The stem-branches are used to name the year, and according to the usual practice, each branch corresponds to an animal zodiac sign. After the era system was abolished, the stem-branches become the only formal year numbering method.

There are twelve or thirteen months in a year. Years with twelve months are common years, and there are 353 to 355 days in a common year. Years with thirteen months are leap years, and there are 383 to 385 days in a leap year. For example, the year from February 8, 2016 to January 27, 2017 is a Bǐngshēnnían or Hŭohóunían (Year of Fire Monkey), a common year with late Vernal Commences(Chinese: 年尾春) , 12 months or 355 days long.

Age recognition in China[edit]

In China, age for official use is based on the Gregorian calendar. For traditional use, age is based on the Chinese calendar. From birthday to the end of the year, it's one year old. After each New Year's Eve, add one year. "Ring out the old year and ring in the new onethe last age (traditional Chinese: 辭舊迎新; simplified Chinese: 辞旧迎新; pinyin: cíjiù yíngxīn)" is the literary express of New Year Ceremony. For example, if one's birthday is Làyuè 29th 2013, he is 2 years old at Zhēngyuè 1st 2014. On the other hand, people say months old instead of years old, if someone is too young. It's that the age sequence is "1 month old, 2 months old, ... 10 months old, 2 years old, 3 years old...".

After the actual age (traditional Chinese: 實歲; simplified Chinese: 实岁) was introduced into China, the Chinese traditional age was referred to as the nominal age (traditional Chinese: 虛歲; simplified Chinese: 虚岁). Divided the year into two halves by the birthday in the Chinese calendar,[3] the nominal age is 2 older than the actual age in the first half, and the nominal age is 1 older than the actual age in the second half (traditional Chinese: 前半年前虛兩歲,後半年虛一歲; simplified Chinese: 前半年前虚两岁,后半年虚一岁).[4]

Year number system[edit]

  • Era system
Main article: Chinese era name

In the ancient system, years were numbered from 1, beginning when a new emperor ascended the throne or the authorities announced the reign title. The first reign title was Jiànyuán (Chinese: 建元, from 140 BCE), and the last reign title was Xuāntǒng (traditional Chinese: 宣統; simplified Chinese: 宣统, from 1908 CE). The era system was abolished in 1912 CE, after which the Current Era or Republican era was used. The epoch of the Current Era is just the same as the reign title of Emperor Píng of Hàn Dynasty, Yuánshí (Chinese: 元始, the original of the era).

  • Continuous year numbering

Occasionally, nomenclature similar to that of the Christian era has been used, such as[5]

Anno Huángdì(Chinese: 黄帝紀年), referring to the beginning of the reign of the Yellow Emperor, 2698+AD=AH
Anno Yáo(Chinese: 唐尧紀年), referring to the beginning of the reign of Emperor Yao, 2156+AD=AY
Anno Gònghé(Chinese: 共和紀年), referring to the beginning of the Gonghe Regency, 841+AD=AG
Anno Confucius(Chinese: 孔子紀年), referring to the birth year of Confucius, 551+AD=AC
Anno Unity(Chinese: 統一紀年), referring to the beginning of the reign of Qin Shi Huang, 221+AD=AU

No reference date is universally accepted. On January 2, 1912, Sun Yat-sen declared a change to the official calendar and era. In his declaration, January 1, 1912 is called Shíyīyuè 13th, 4609 AH which implied an epoch of 2698 BC. The implication was adopted by many overseas Chinese communities outside Southeast Asia such as San Francisco's Chinatown.[6]

In the 17th century, the Jesuits tried to determine what year should be considered the epoch of the Han calendar. In his Sinicae historiae decas prima (first published in Munich in 1658), Martino Martini (1614–1661) dated the ascension of the Yellow Emperor to 2697 BC, but started the Chinese calendar with the reign of Fuxi, which he claimed started in 2952 BCE. Philippe Couplet's (1623–1693) Chronological table of Chinese monarchs (Tabula chronologica monarchiae sinicae; 1686) also gave the same date for the Yellow Emperor. The Jesuits' dates provoked great interest in Europe, where they were used for comparisons with Biblical chronology. Modern Chinese chronology has generally accepted Martini's dates, except that it usually places the reign of the Yellow Emperor in 2698 BC and omits the Yellow Emperor's predecessors Fuxi and Shennong, who are considered "too legendary to include".

Starting in 1903, radical publications started using the projected date of birth of the Yellow Emperor as the first year of the Han calendar. Different newspapers and magazines proposed different dates. Jiangsu, for example, counted 1905 as year 4396 (use an epoch of 2491 BCE), whereas the newspaper Ming Pao (traditional Chinese: 明報; simplified Chinese: 明报) reckoned 1905 as 4603 (use an epoch of 2698 BC). Liu Shipei (劉師培; 1884–1919) created the Yellow Emperor Calendar, now often used to calculate the date, to show the unbroken continuity of the Han race and Han culture from earliest times. Liu's calendar started with the birth of the Yellow Emperor, which he determined to be 2711 BC. There is no evidence that this calendar was used before the 20th century.[7] Liu calculated that the 1900 international expedition sent by the Eight-Nation Alliance to suppress the Boxer Rebellion entered Beijing in the 4611th year of the Yellow Emperor.

  • Calendric epoch

There is an epoch for each version of the Chinese calendar, which is called Lìyuán (traditional Chinese: 曆元; simplified Chinese: 历元). The epoch is the optimal origin of the calendar, and it's a Jiǎzǐrì, the first day of a lunar month, and the dark moon and solstice are just at the midnight (Chinese: 日得甲子夜半朔旦冬至). And tracing back to a perfect day, such as that day with the magical star sign, there's a supreme epoch (Chinese: 上元; pinyin: shàngyuán). The continuous year based on the supreme epoch is shàngyuán jīnián (traditional Chinese: 上元積年; simplified Chinese: 上元积年). More and more factors were added into the supreme epoch, and the shàngyuán jīnián became a huge number. So, the supreme epoch and shàngyuán jīnián were neglected from the Shòushí calendar.

  • Yuán-Huì-Yùn-Shì system

Shao Yong (Chinese: 邵雍 1011–1077), a philosopher, cosmologist, poet, and historian who greatly influenced the development of Neo-Confucianism in China, introduced a timing system in his The Ultimate which Manages the World (traditional Chinese: 皇極經世; simplified Chinese: 皇极经世; pinyin: Huángjíjīngshì) In his time system, 1 yuán (Chinese: ), which contains 12'9600 years, is a lifecycle of the world. Each yuán is divided into 12 huì (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: ). Each huì is divided into 30 yùn (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: ), and each yùn is divided into 12 shì (Chinese: ). So, each shì is equivalent to 30 years. The yuán-huì-yùn-shì corresponds with nián-yuè-rì-shí. So the yuán-huì-yùn-shì is called the major tend or the numbers of the heaven, and the nián-yuè-rì-shí is called the minor tend or the numbers of the earth.

The minor tend of the birth is adapted by people for predicting destiny or fate. The numbers of nián-yuè-rì-shí are encoded with stem-branches and show a form of Bāzì. The nián-yuè-rì-shí are called the Four Pillars of Destiny. For example, the Bāzì of the Qianlong Emperor is Xīnmǎo, Dīngyǒu, Gēngwǔ, Bǐngzǐ (辛卯、丁酉、庚午、丙子). Shào's Huángjíjīngshì recorded the history of the timing system from the first year of the 180th yùn or 2149th shì (HYSN 0630-0101, 2577 BC) and marked the year with the reign title from the Jiǎchénnián of the 2156th shì (HYSN 0630-0811, 2357 BC, Tángyáo 1, traditional Chinese: 唐堯元年; simplified Chinese: 唐尧元年). According to this timing system, 2014-1-31 is HYSN/YR 0712-1001/0101.

The table below shows the kinds of year number system along with correspondences to the Western (Gregorian) calendar. Alternatively, see this larger table of the full 60-year cycle.

Year in cycle s,b Gānzhī (干支) Year of the... CE[1] AR[1] HYSN[2] AH[3] Begins
27 7,3 gēngyín (庚寅) Metal Tiger 2010 99 0712-0927 4707 February 14
28 8,4 xīnmǎo (辛卯) Metal Rabbit 2011 100 0712-0928 4708 February 3
29 9,5 rénchén (壬辰) Water Dragon 2012 101 0712-0929 4709 January 23
30 10,6 guǐsì (癸巳) Water Snake 2013 102 0712-0930 4710 February 10
31 1,7 jiǎwǔ (甲午) Wood Horse 2014 103 0712-1001 4711 January 31
32 2,8 yǐwèi (乙未) Wood Goat 2015 104 0712-1002 4712 February 19
33 3,9 bǐngshēn (丙申) Fire Monkey 2016 105 0712-1003 4713 February 8
34 4,10 dīngyǒu (丁酉) Fire Rooster 2017 106 0712-1004 4714 January 28
35 5,11 wùxū (戊戌) Earth Dog 2018 107 0712-1005 4715 February 16
36 6,12 jǐhài (己亥) Earth Pig 2019 108 0712-1006 4716 February 5

1 As of the beginning of the year. AR=Anno the Republic of China
2 Timestamp according to Huángjíjīngshì, as a format of Huìyùn-Shìnián.
3 Huángdì era, using an epoch (year 1) of 2697 BC. Subtract 60 if using an epoch of 2637 BC. Add 1 if using an epoch of 2698 BC.


The plum rains season is the rainy season during the late spring and early summer. The plum rains season starts on the first Bǐngrì after the Corn on Ear, and ends on the first Wèirì after the Moderate Heat.
The Sanfu days are the three sections from the first Gēng-day after the summer solstice. The first section is 10 days long, and named the fore fu (Chinese: 初伏; pinyin: chūfú). The second section is 10 or 20 days long, and named the mid fu (Chinese: 中伏; pinyin: zhōngfú). The last section is 10 days long from the first Gēng-day after autumn commences, and named the last fu (Chinese: 末伏; pinyin: mòfú).
The Shujiu cold days are the nine sections from the winter solstice. Each section is 9 days long. The shǔjǐu are the coldest days, and named with an ordinal number, such as Sìjǐu (Chinese: 四九).
The forecast of drought (traditional Chinese: 分龍; simplified Chinese: 分龙) is the key day which forecast if it's a drought year. the day is the first Chénrì after the Summer Solstice.


In the Sinosphere, the traditional festivals are upon the Chinese calendar (or local version of the Chinese calendar).

  • Major traditional holidays on fixed dates
Preliminary Eve (Chinese: 小年) is Làyuè 23 or 24. The following preliminary eve is at 2016-02-01 in north China, and at 2016-02-02 in south China.
New Year's Eve (Chinese: 除夕) is the last day of the year, Làyuè 29 or 30. The following New Year's Eve is at 2016-02-07, which is a statutory holiday.
New Year's Day (traditional Chinese: 春節; simplified Chinese: 春节) is Zhēngyuè 1.The following New Year's Day is at 2016-02-08, which is a statutory holiday.
Yuanxiao (Chinese: 元宵) is Zhēngyuè 15. The following Yuanxiao is at 2015-03-05
Shangsi (Chinese: 上巳) is Sānyuè 3. The following Shangsi is at 2015-04-21
Buddha's Birthday (traditional Chinese: 佛誕; simplified Chinese: 佛诞) is Sìyuè 8. The following Buddha's Birthday is at 2015-05-25
Duanwu (Chinese: 端午) is Wǔyuè 5. The following Duanwu is at 2015-06-20, which is a statutory holiday.
Qixi (Chinese: 七夕) is Qīyuè 7. The following Qixi is at 2015-08-20
Zhongyuan (Chinese: 中元) is Qīyuè 15. The following Zhongyuan is at 2015-08-28
Mid-autumn (Chinese: 中秋) is Bāyuè 15. The following Mid-autumn is at 2015-09-27, which is a statutory holiday.
Dual-yang (traditional Chinese: 重陽; simplified Chinese: 重阳) is Jiǔyuè 9. The following Dual-yang is at 2015-10-21
Xiayuan (Chinese: 下元) is Shíyuè 15. The following Xiayuan is at 2015-11-26
The Laba Festival (traditional Chinese: 臘八節; simplified Chinese: 腊八节) is Làyuè 8. The following Laba Festival is at 2016-01-17
  • Major traditional holidays on solar terms
Hanshi (Chinese: 寒食) is 105 days after the Winter Solstice. The following Hanshi is April 4 or Éryuè 16, 2015
The Qingming Festival (Chinese: 清明) is just on the day of the Bright and Clear. The following Qingming Festival is April 5 or Éryuè 17, 2015, which is a statutory holiday.
The Winter Solstice (Chinese: 冬至) is just on the day of the Winter Solstice. The following Winter Solstice is December 22 or Shíyīyuè 12, 2015.
The Vernal/Autumn Sacrifice (Chinese: 春社/秋社) is the fifth Wùrì after Vernal/Autumn Commences.
  • The traditional business festivals
In the old days, merchants used to open their stores from Zhēngyuè 5, and host a prayer service on that day. Zhēngyuè 5 is called God of Wealth's Day, and the prayer service is called God of Wealth is Welcome.
In the Fujian and Taiwan areas, businesses host a year-end dinner for employees at Làyuè 16. Làyuè 16 is called Weiya (Chinese: 尾牙).


Earlier Chinese calendars[edit]

Before the Spring and Autumn period, some Chinese Calendars were solar calendars, while the lunar system seems loosely attached to it. Shang Dynasty oracle bone records indicate that intercalary months were already recognized and regularly (though not systematically) inserted to correct the desynchronization between the two systems; when an intercalary month was inserted, it usually happened at the end of the lunar year, resulting in terms as 十三月, literally "thirteenth month". When one intercalary month was insufficient to correct the calendar, a second could also be inserted, appearing as 十四月, "fourteenth month".[8]

According to literature, the first version was the five-phases calendar (traditional Chinese: 五行曆; simplified Chinese: 五行历). In the five-phases calendar, the year begins at the Vernal Commences, and consists of 10 months and a transition. Each month is 36 days long, and the transitions are 5 or 6 days long. The months are named with the heavenly stems, and a couple of months form a phase. Phases are named with five-phases. The second version is the four-seasons calendar (traditional Chinese: 四時八節曆; simplified Chinese: 四时八节历). In the four-seasons calendar, the year begins at the Vernal Commences, and consists of 12 months and a year day.

Ancient Chinese calendars[edit]

During the Warring States period, the primitive lunisolar calendars are established by the ruling Zhou dynasty and its vassal states. Several representative calendars are the Yellow Emperor's calendar (traditional Chinese: 黃帝曆; simplified Chinese: 黄帝历), Zhuanxu's calendar (traditional Chinese: 顓頊曆; simplified Chinese: 颛顼历), Xia's calendar (traditional Chinese: 夏曆; simplified Chinese: 夏历), Yin's calendar (traditional Chinese: 殷曆; simplified Chinese: 殷历), Zhou's calendar (traditional Chinese: 周曆; simplified Chinese: 周历), and Lu's calendar (traditional Chinese: 魯曆; simplified Chinese: 鲁历). These six calendars are called as the six ancient calendars (traditional Chinese: 古六曆; simplified Chinese: 古六历), and are the quarter remainder calendars (traditional Chinese: 四分曆; simplified Chinese: 四分历; pinyin: sìfēnlì). The months of these calendars begin on the day with the darkmoon, and there are 12 or 13 month within a year. The intercalary month is placed at the end of the year, and called as 13th month. But, the year beginning is different in these calendars. The years in the Xia calendar begin on the day with the darkmoon close to the Vernal Commences. The years in the Yin calendar end on the last day of the month with the Winter Solstice. The years in the Yellow Emperor's calendar, Zhou's calendar, and Lu's calendar begin on the first day of the month with the Winter Solstice. And, the years in the Zhuanxu's calendar begin on the day with the darkmoon close to the Winter Commences.

  • Calendar of the Qin and early Han dynasties

After Qin Shi Huang unified China under the Qin dynasty, the Qin's calendar (traditional Chinese: 秦曆; simplified Chinese: 秦历) was released. The Qin's calendar follows the rules of Zhuanxu's calendar, but the months order follows the Xia calendar. The months in the year are from the 10th month to the 9th month, and the intercalary month is called as the second Jiuyue (traditional Chinese: 後九月; simplified Chinese: 后九月). In the early Han dynasty, the Qin calendar continued to be used.

  • Taichu calendar and the calendars from the Han to Ming dynasties.

Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty introduced reforms in the halfway of his administration. His Taichu or Grand Inception Calendar (traditional Chinese: 太初曆; simplified Chinese: 太初历) introduced 24 solar terms which decides the month names. The solar year was defined as 365 385/1539 days, and divided into 24 solar terms. Each couples of solar terms are associated into 12 climate terms. The lunar month was defined as 29 43/81 days and named according to the closest climate term. The mid-climate in the month decides the month name, and a month without mid-climate is an intercalary.

The Taichu calendar established the frame of the Chinese calendar, Ever since then, there are over 100 official calendars in Chinese which are consecutive and follow the structure of Tàichū calendar both. There're several innovation in calendar calculation in the history of over 2100 years, such as:

In the Dàmíng Calendar released in Tiānjiān 9 (Chinese: 天监九年, 510) of the Liang dynasty, Zhu Chongzhi introduced the equation of equinoxes.
Actual syzygy method was adopted to decide the month from the Wùyín Yuán Calendar, which was released in Wǔdé 2 (Chinese: 武德二年, 619) of the Tang dynasty.
The real measured data was used in calendar calculation from Shòushí Calendar, which was released in Zhìyuán 18 (Chinese: 至元十八年, 1281) of the Yuan dynasty. And the tropical year is fixed at 365.2425 days, the same as the Gregorian calendar established in 1582.,[9] and derived spherical trigonometry.[10][11][12]

Modern Chinese calendars[edit]

  • Shíxiàn calendar

In the late Ming dynasty, Xu Guangqi and his colleagues worked out the new calendar upon the western astronomical arithmetic. But, the new calendar is not released before the end of the Ming dynasty. In the early Qing dynasty, Johann Adam Schall von Bell submitted the calendar to the Shunzhi Emperor. The Qing government released the calendar with a name, the Shíxiàn calendar, which means seasonal charter. In the Shíxiàn calendar, the solar terms each correspond to 15° along the ecliptic. It makes the Chinese calendar develop into an astronomical calendar. However, the length of the climate term near the perihelion is shorter than 30 days and there may be two mid-climate terms. The rule of the mid-climate terms decides the months, which is used for thousands years, lose its validity. The Shíxiàn calendar changed the rule to "decides the month in sequence, except the intercalary month".

  • Current Chinese calendar

Currently, the Chinese calendar follows the rules of the Shíxiàn calendar, except that: changed the baseline to the Chinese Standard Time, and adopt the real astronomical data of observatories against the theoretical calculation.

  • Optimize the Chinese calendar

To optimize the Chinese calendar, astronomers and astrophiles released many proposals. A typical proposal was released by Gao Pingzi (Chinese: 高平子; 1888-1970), a Chinese astronomer who was one of the founders of Purple Mountain Observatory. In his proposal, the month numbers are calculated before the dark moons and the solar terms were rounded to day. Upon his proposal, the month numbers are the same for the Chinese calendar upon different time zones.

Other practices[edit]

Among the ethnic groups inhabiting the mountain and plateau of southwestern China, and those living in the grasslands of northern China, the civil calendars shows a diversity of practice upon the characteristic phenology and culture, but they are based on the algorithm of the Chinese calendar of different periods, especially those of the Tang dynasty and pre-Qin dynasty period. For example, the Thai, Tibetan and Mongolian calendar is based on the algorithm of the Tang dynasty, while the Miao and Yi calendar is based on the algorithm of the pre-Qin dynasty period.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 海上 (2005). 《中國人的歲時文化》. 岳麓書社. p. 195. ISBN 7-80665-620-0. 
  2. ^ New year on the Chinese calendar year of 1645-2644.
  3. ^ The birthday is the day in each year that have the same date as the one on which someone was born. It's easy to confirm the birthday in the Chinese calendar for most people. But, if someone was born on the 30th of a month, his birthday is the last day of that month, and if someone is born in an intercalary month, his birthday is the day with the same date in the common month of the intercalary month.
  4. ^ The Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and the Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, and the birthday in the Chinese calendar is not same as in the Gregorian calendar always. so, there's a bias of +/-1 between the actual age in the Chinese calendar and in the Gregorian calendar. Thus, the nominal age in the Chinese calendar is 0~3 older than the actual age in the Gregorian calendar.
  5. ^ 《辽宁大学学报:哲社版》,2004/06,43~50页
  6. ^ Aslaksen, p.38.
  7. ^ Cohen (2012), p. 1, 4.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Asiapac Editorial. (2004). Origins of Chinese Science and Technology. Translated by Yang Liping and Y.N. Han. Singapore: Asiapac Books Pte. Ltd. ISBN 981-229-376-0, p.132.
  10. ^ Needham, Joseph. (1959). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 3, Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth. Cambridge University Press., reprinted Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.(1986), pp. 109–110.
  11. ^ Ho, Peng Yoke. (2000). Li, Qi, and Shu: An Introduction to Science and Civilization in China. Mineola: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-41445-0. p. 105.
  12. ^ Restivo, Sal. (1992). Mathematics in Society and History: Sociological Inquiries. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 1-4020-0039-1. p. 32.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Calendar conversion