Chinese calendar

This article is about the traditional Chinese calendar. For the most commonly and officially used calendar in modern China, see Gregorian calendar and Adoption of the Gregorian calendar § China and Taiwan.
Fri,Mar 24,2017
二月廿七日庚戌
Èryuè,Dīngyǒunián
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
01 02 03 04 05 06 07
08 09 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31 32 33 34 35
00:58:293:24三更二点
Chinese Calendar of 2017
A page of the Chinese calendar

Traditional 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 depictures and lists the dates of traditional Chinese holidays, and guides Chinese people in selecting the most auspicious 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. In a month, there are one to three solar terms.

The currently used traditional Chinese calendar is the end result 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 and evolved into Korean, Ryukyuan, and Vietnamese calendar, with the main difference being the use of different meridians which leads to same astronomical events falling on different dates in different countries and thus the same event may occasionally be assigned a different date in each of those calendars. The traditional Japanese calendar was also derived from the Chinese calendar, based on a Japanese meridian, however its official use in Japan was abolished in the early 20th century and its usage has mostly disappeared since then. Calendars in Mongolia and Tibet have absorbed elements from the Chinese calendar and elements from other systems, but they are not direct descendants of the Chinese calendar.

The official calendar in China is the Gregorian calendar, but the traditional Chinese calendar still 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), [a] 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; literally: " yin calendar"). The Chinese calendar preserves traditional East Asian culture.

Although the month sequences of Chinese calendar is decided by the solar term, the Chinese calendar is not an agriculture calendar.

In ancient China, the calendars marked the name/stem - branch of the year, month names, month length flags(大/小=Long/Short), the stems of 1/11/21(1/11/21 of each month are same in stem, use a character), the branches of 1/11/21, and the date/stem-branch/time of the solar terms in the month.

The Chinese calendar has greatly influenced the traditional calendars around Asia.

Structure

General

The calendar has a year, month and date frame. The key elements are the day, synodic month and solar year. The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, similar to the Hindu and Hebrew calendars.

The concepts in the Chinese, Hindu, and Hebrew calendars:

  • day, the time based on the earth's rotation. In the Chinese calendar, a day starts from the midnight; in the Hindu calendars, a day starts from sunrise; and in the Hebrew calendar, a day starts from sunset.
  • month, the time is based on the obliquity of the moon path. In the Chinese calendar, a month starts from the dark moon; in the Hindu calendars, a month can start from the dark moon or the full moon; and in the Hebrew calendar, a month starts from the new moon. A month is about 29 17/32 days.
  • phase, 1/30 month, 12° obliquity of the moon path. A unique concept of dating method in the Hindu calendar, a phase is about 63/64 day, which derived out the 64 divinatory symbols.
  • date, the day number in a month. In the Chinese and Hebrew calendars, days are numbered in sequence from 1 to 29 or 30; and in the Hindu calendars, the days are numbered according to the number of the phase in the days. In the Hindu calendars, some dates may be vacant.
  • year, the time based on the earth's revolution. In the Chinese calendar, a year starts from the vernal commence (or the winter solstice); in the Hindu and Hebrew calendar starts from the vernal equinox. A year is about 365 31/128 days.
  • zodiac, 1/12 year, 30° ecliptic, a concept of monthing method in the Chinese and Hindu calendars, and the concept of the monthing method in the solar calendars, such as the Gregorian calendar and Persian calendar. A zodiac is about 30 7/16 days. The zodiac in the Chinese calendar is 45° away from the zodiac in the Babylon system.
  • solar term, 1/24 year, 15° ecliptic, a unique concept of monthing method in the Chinese calendar. A solar term is about 15 7/32 days.
  • calendric month, the month numbering in a year. In the Chinese and Hindu calendars, the months are numbered according to the zodiac number; and in the Hebrew calendar, months are numbered in sequence from 1 to 12/13 (Adar). In the Chinese, Hindu and Hebrew calendars, some months may be repeated.
  • calendric year, the year for the calendric purpose (in culture or religion). In the Chinese calendar, the calendric year starts from the nearest day of the dark moon to the vernal commences; in the Hindu and Hebrew calendars, the calendric year is the month with the vernal equinox. A calendric year is 353/354/355 or 383/384/385 days.

7 Luminaries, Big Dipper, 3 Enclosures, 28 Mansions

The movements of the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are the key references for calendar calculations. These are known as the seven luminaries.

  • The distance between Mercury and the sun is within 30°, which is the sun's height at chenshi, so Mercury is called the "chen star". ( Chinese: 辰星)
  • Venus occurs at dawn and dusk, so the Venus is called the "bright star" ( Chinese: 启明星) or "long star" ( Chinese: 长庚星).
  • Mars looks like fire and occurs irregularly, so Mars is called the "fire star" ( Chinese: 荧惑星). Mars is in charge of punishment in Chinese culture. When Mars is close to Antares ( Chinese: 荧惑守心), it is a sign of bad luck and can forebode the death of the emperor or the ousting of the chancellor.
  • The period of Jupiter's revolution is about 11.86 years, so Jupiter is called the "age star" ( traditional Chinese: 歲星; simplified Chinese: 岁星), since 30° of Jupiter's revolution is about a year on Earth.
  • The period of Saturn's revolution is about 28 years, so Saturn is called the "guard star" ( Chinese: 鎮星). This means that Saturn guards one of the 12 mansions every year.

The Big Dipper is regarded as the compass in the sky, and the handle's direction decides the season and solar month.
The stars are divided into 3 enclosures and 28 mansions according to the location in the sky. The mansions are named with 28 characters according to the shape.

  • Central (3 enclosures): Purple Forbidden ( Chinese: 紫微), Supreme Palace ( Chinese: 太微), Heavenly Market ( Chinese: 天市)
  • Eastern mansions: 角, 亢, 氐, 房, 心, 尾, 箕; Southern mansions: 井, 鬼, 柳, 星, 张, 翼, 轸; Western mansions: 奎, 娄, 胃, 昴, 毕, 参, 觜; Northern mansions: 斗, 牛, 女, 虚, 危, 室, 壁

The moon moves about 1 mansion per day. Therefore, the 28 mansions are used to count days too. In the Tang Dynasty, Yuan Tiangang ( Chinese: 袁天罡) matched the 28 mansions, 7 luminaries and animal signs, such as horn-wood-flood dragon ( Chinese: 角木蛟).

Codes

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 earthly branches is a duodecimal system. The earthly branches are used to mark the shí and climate terms usually.
  • There's a different pattern for earthly branches, which is called as 12 characters of jian, chu and others( Chinese: 建除十二字; pinyin: jianchu 12 zi). The 12 characters sequence from the first day with the same branch as the month(first Yinri of Zheng, first Maori of Ery, ...). The 12 characters must be used to count the days of the solar month.
  • 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.
  • The stem-branches order may calculate with the stems order and branches order. sb=6s-5b (if less than 10, add 50)
  • The unit digit of the stem-branches order is the stems order; the unit digit minus twice the tens digit is the branches order(if less than 2, add 10)
  • The five phases are used to match the stems, branches, and stem-branches. And the Yin-yang are used to match the stems, branches, and stem-branches too, odd-yang, even-yin.
Coding system in Chinese calendar and time system
Stem-branches Heaven stems Earthly branches
Wuxin Stem-branch Wuxin Stem -gēng Wuxin Branch -shí -yuè
metal 1z 97 73 15 91 79 wood 1 jiǎ 19:12 yig 1 wood yín 4:00 zhg
20 08 84 26 02 8x 2 21:36 erg 2 mǎo 6:00 ery
fire 31 19 5z 37 13 55 fire 3 bǐng 0:00 sag 3 soil chén 8:00 say
42 2x 60 48 24 66 4 dīng 2:24 sig 4 fire 10:00 Siy
wood 53 95 71 59 9z 77 soil 5 4:48 wug 5 12:00 wuy
64 06 82 6x 00 88 6 7:12 morn 6 soil wèi 14:00 luy
water 3z 17 93 35 11 99 metal 7 gēng 9:36 ante 7 metal shēn 16:00 qiy
40 28 04 46 22 0x 8 xīn 12:00 noon 8 yǒu 18:00 bay
soil 75 51 39 7z 57 33 water 9 rén 14:24 post 9 soil 20:00 joy
86 62 4x 80 68 44 0 guì 16:48 eve 10 water hài 22:00 shy
11 00:00 doy
0 soil chǒu 02:00 lay

Time system

Explanatory Chart for Chinese time

In Modern China, people use the Western hour-minute-second system to divide time. In Ancient China, people used the shi-ke system to divide the time during the day and the geng-dian system to divide the time during the night.. For example:

The Chinese standard time is 00:58:29, or 3:24(Sang 2 point).

In the Chinese calendar, the day begins at midnight and ends at the next midnight, but people tend to regard the days as beginning at dawn.

  • 24 hours system
In Han Dynasty, a day is divided into 24 hours, and the 15 active o'clocks(6:00-20:00) are named as: dawn(晨明), daybreak(朏明), morning(旦明), earlier breakfast(蚤食),later breakfast(宴食),ante noon(隅中),noon(正中),short shadow(少还), drum time(铺时),long shadow(大还), higher setting(高舂),lower setting(下舂), sunset (县东), dusk(黄昏), rest time(定昏)
  • shi-ke system
A day is divided into 100 centidays by kes(the scales), or into 12 dual-hours by 12 shis, which are named with 12 earthly branches.
In the earlier stage, the time expression is sss initial, sss 1 ke,..., sss 8 ke, such as wush 3 ke(the third ke after wush)
After Tang dynasty, the time expression is a.sss initial, a.sss 1 ke,..., a.sss 4 ke, p.sss initial, p.sss 1 ke,..., p.sss 4 ke, such as a.wush 3 ke(the third ke of wush), p.yinsh 4 ke(the fourth ke after yinsh)
For the calendar convenience, A day is divided into 6000 fens. 1 centiday = 60 fens, 1 fen = 14.4 seconds.
  • geng-dian system
A day is divided into 10 decidays by gengs(The midnight is sang, and each deciday is divided by 5 dians(points).
The time expression is ggg, ggg 1 point,..., ggg 5 point, such as sang 2 point(the second point after sang).
Among a year, the night length is inconstant. At 35°N, it is about 60% at the winter solstice, and about 40% at the summer solstice. So, the night gengs starts from a time between dawn and yig, and end at a time between wug and morn
  • 16-parts system
At pre-Qin and Qin-Han, a day was divided into 16 parts from the cock time(3:00; 4:15 / sig 1 point 50 fen). The 16-parts system is established for calendar convenience, for:
A season is about 91 days and 5 parts, and a solar month is about 30 days and 7 parts.
A couple of months is about 59 days and a part.

Week

For more information on the adaption of seven-day week, see Names of the days of the week § East_Asian_tradition.

The Chinese appear to have adopted the seven-day week from the Hellenistic system by the 4th century, although by which route is not entirely clear. It was again transmitted to China in the 8th century by Manichaeans, via the country of Kang (a Central Asian polity near Samarkand). [1] [b] [c] It is the most predominately used system in modern China.

Other than the seven-day week system, 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). [2] In modern time, it is still used in counting special days including Three Fu Days (Chinese: 三伏). [3]

The law during 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).

In winter, there is also a 9-day cycle counting start from the winter solstice, which would last for 9 cycles until 81 days later when it is deemed as the end of winter. [4]

Month

Month is the time between the dark moon. In the early days, the month length was estimated, and balanced. In general, 15-months-cycles and 17-months-cycles alternated for compliance with the synodic month.

The 15-months-cycle is 30,29,30,29,30,29,30,29,30,29,30,29,30,29,30
The 17-months-cycle is 30,29,30,29,30,29,30,29,30,29,30,29,30,29,30,29,30

In different ages, the calendar use different major cycle, which contains several 15-months-cycles and 17-months-cycle. The synodic month of Taichu calendar is 2943/81 days, so the major cycle contains three 17-months-cycles and two 15-months-cycles.

In 7th century, the Wùyín Yuán Calendar of Tang dynasty in 7th century, the month length was determined by the real synodic month for the first time, instead of the cycling method, which mean month lengths is determined by observation and prediction starting from Tang dynasty, except a few brief period of time. [d]

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.
As a convention, the days of the month are numbered with the 60 stem-branches in the history books. For example: Tiansheng 1st year, Eryue, Dingsiri , Set the portrait of the Great Chris and Pope in the Hongqing Palace of the southern capital. - Volume ix: Biographic Sketches of Pope Ren, History of Song Dynasty.

Because astronomical observation is used to determine month length, date of the Chinese calendar corresponds to the moon phase.

The first day of each month is the 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.
In the 22nd or 23rd day of each month, the last quarter moon is visible late at night and in the morning.

As the beginning of every month is determined by the time when the new moon occur, thus other countries who have adopted the calendar and use time standard that are different from China to calculate their own version of the calendar could result in deviation. For instance, the first new moon in the year 1968 in Gregorian calendar happened in UTC Jan 29 16:29, which would translate to Jan 29 23:29 in UTC+7 timezone (which is what North Vietnam used to calculate their Vietnamese calendar) while it would be Jan 30 00:15 based on the longitude of Beijing (as used by South Vietnam at the time), causing the two countries celebrate Tết holiday in different date that year and result in asynchronized attacks in Tet Offensive. [5]

Solar year and solar term

See also: Solar term

The solar year( traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: ; pinyin: Suì) is the time between the winter solstices. The solar year is divided into 24 solar terms.

In ancient China, the solar year and solar terms were estimated and balanced, and the solar term is just the 1/24 of the solar year, about 157/32 days.

Starting from the 17th century, when the Shixian Calendar of Qing dynasty was adopted, the solar year was determined by the real tropical year instead. The solar terms correspond to intervals of 15° along the ecliptic.

Different version of traditional Chinese calendar might have different average year length. For instance, one solar year of Taichu calendar, which were implemented in 1st century BC, is 365385/1539 days, while one solar year of Shoushi calendar, which were implemented in 13th century, is 36597/400 days, which is the same as the Gregorian calendar.

Couples of solar terms are climate terms(solar months). The first of each couples is "pre-climate" ( traditional Chinese: 節氣; simplified Chinese: 节气; pinyin: Jiéqì), and the second of the each couple is "mid-climate" ( traditional Chinese: 中氣; simplified Chinese: 中气; pinyin: Zhōngqì).

The intercalary months(1862 to 2108)
0th 3rd 6th 9th ¦
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0th 3rd 6th 9th
Leap 7/8 6/5 4 3/2 Leap 10 7/6 5 4/3
1862~ 8 5 4 1870~ 10 6 5 3
1881~ 7 5 4 2 1889~ 6 5 3
1900~ 8 5 4 2 1908~ 6 5 2
1919~ 7 5 4 2 1927~ 6 5 3
1938~ 7 6 4 2 1946~ 7 5 3
1957~ 8 6 4 3 1965~ 7 5 4
1976~ 8 6 4 1984~ 10 6 5 3
1995~ 8 5 4 3 2003~ 7 5 4
2014~ 9 6 4 2 2022~ 6 5 3
2033~ 11 6 5 2 2041~ 7 5 3
2052~ 8 6 4 3 2060~ 7 5 4
2071~ 8 6 4 3 2079~ 7 5 4
2090~ 8 6 4 2 2098~ 7 5 4
  1. FTC 小寒 First Term of Cold Season
  2. STC 大寒 Second Term of Cold Season
  3. VC 立春 Vernal commence
  4. LTC 雨水 Last Term of Cold Season (惊蛰)
  5. FT R惊蛰 First Term of Rainy Season (雨水)
  6. VE 春分 Vernal Equinox
  7. STR 清明 Second Term of Rainy Season (谷雨)
  8. LTR 谷雨 Last Term of Rainy Season (清明)
  9. SC 立夏 Summer commence
  10. FTG 小满 First Term of Growing Season
  11. STG 芒种 Second Term of Growing Season
  12. SS 夏至 Summer Solstice
  13. FTH 小暑 First Term of Hot Season
  14. STH 大暑 Second Term of Hot Season
  15. AC 立秋 Autumn Commence
  16. LTH 处暑 Last Term of Hot Season
  17. FTD 白露 First Term of Dew Season
  18. AE 秋分 Autumn Equinox
  19. STD 寒露 Second Term of Dew Season
  20. LTD 霜降 Last Term of Dew Season
  21. WC 立冬 Winter Commence
  22. FTS 小雪 First Term of Snowy Season
  23. STS 大雪 Second Term of Snowy Season
  24. WS 冬至 Winter Solstice
2017
ws WS 0 18:44
0 8 14:53 FTC 15 11:55 STC 30 5:23
1 38 8:06 VC 44 23:34 LTC 59 19:31
2 67 22:58 FTR 74 17:32 VE 89 18:28
3 97 10:57 STR 104 22:17 LTR 120 5:26
4 126 20:16 SC 135 15:30 FTG 151 4:30
5 156 3:44 STG 166 19:36 SS 182 12:24
6 185 10:30 FTH 198 5:50 STH 213 23:15
i 214 17:45 AC 229 15:39
7 244 2:30 LTH 245 6:20 FTD 260 18:38
8 273 13:29 AE 276 4:01 STD 291 10:22
9 303 3:11 LTD 306 13:26 WC 321 13:37
10 332 19:42 FTS 336 11:04 STS 351 6:32
ws 362 14:30 WS 366 0:27

In general, there are 11 or 12 complete months and 2 incomplete months, which contains the winter solstice, in a solar year. The 11 mid-climates except the winter solstice are in the 11 or 12 complete months. The first month without a mid-climate is the leap month.

The complete months except the intercalary month, queues up from 0 to 10, and the incomplete months follows this queque, to be 11. The intercalary follows the queque number before by rule.

Civil year

The civil year starts from the first spring month (1), and ends at the last winter month (0/0i). The first and last month is called as Zhēngyuè ( Chinese: 正月, capital month) and Làyuè ( traditional Chinese: 臘月; simplified Chinese: 腊月, sacrificial month), and the other month is called according to the queque number (except that the 0th month is Shieryue, if the Layue is a leap month).

There are 12/13 months in each year. The years with 12 months are common years, or 353~355 days, is a common year. The years with 13 months, or 383~385 days, is a long year.

Years were numbered after the reign title in Ancient China, but the reign title was no longer used after the founding of PRC in 1949. People use the stem-branches to demarcate the years. For example, the year from February 8, 2016 to January 27, 2017 is a Bǐngshēnnían, 13 months or 384 days long.

To Encode the date in the Chinese calendar, the flag of the intercalary month should be considered. For example, Run Liuyue 6, Dingyounian: 408-6i-06(Timestamp: 40806106)

In Tang Dynasty, the earthly branches are used to mark the months for about 150 days (Dec, 761~May, 762). [e] At that time, the year starts from the month with Winter Solstice, and the month from Zhengyue to Layue are named as: Yinyue, Maoyue, Chenyue, Siyue, Wuyue, Weiyue, Shenyue Youyue, Xuyue, Haiyue, Ziyue, and Chouyue.

Estimate the Chinese Date

  1. A month in the Chinese calendar is 29/30 days long, and a month in the Gregorian calendar is 30/31 days long. So, we may estimate the Chinese date if we know the bias between Layue 1st and January 1. In general, from Eryue/March, the Chinese date move 1 day backward, after a month; the Chinese date move a day forward after Zhengyue/February. Of course, if the bias is over 29 days, we should consider if there's an intercalary month before.
  2. The date of the solar term in the Gregorian calendar is more or less fixed. In general, the date of the solar term in the Chinese calendar swing(±15 days) around the fixed date. The node of the climate term is around the 1st of the corresponding month, and the mid of the climate is round the 15th of the corresponding month.
  3. A solar year is about 365 1/4 days, and 12 month is about 354 3/8 days. So the Chinese date move for about 11 days backward or 19 days forward.
  4. In general, if the Chinese New Year locate at January, there's an intercalary month in this year.
  5. The Chinese date is more or less fixed after 19 years(or 11 years occasionally) later. But, the dates near the intercalary month always are naughty. The dates in the winter of the nominal year of Merton cycle are naughty too, such as 2014+19n.

Graphical representation

A typical graphical representation of the Chinese calendar is the vernal cattle diagram( traditional Chinese: 春牛圖; simplified Chinese: 春牛图), which help people calculate the date. In the vernal cattle diagram:

  1. The color of the cattle head marks the stem (five phases) of the year,
  2. If the cattle mouse is closed, it is a yin year; if the cattle mouse open, it is a yang year,
  3. The color of the cattle body marks the branch of the year.
  4. The color of the cattle tail marks the stem (five phases) of the vernal commence.
  5. If the cattle tail is on the left, vernal commence is a yang day; if the cattle tail is on the right, vernal commence is a yin day,
  6. The color of the cattle knee and shin marks the branch of the vernal commence.
  7. if the cowherd stand ahead the cattle, the vernal commence is 5+ days ahead the spring festival; if the cowherd stand behind the cattle, the vernal commence is 5+ days behind the spring festival; otherwise the bias between spring festival and vernal commence is within 5 days.

Age recognition in China

In China, age for official use is based on the Gregorian calendar. For traditional use, age is based on the Chinese calendar. For the first year from the birthday, the child is considered one year old. After each New Year's Eve, add one year. "Ring out the old age and ring in the new one ( 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 is 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, [f] 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). [g]

Birthday issue

For the intercalary month and month length is float, so there's the birthday issue if someone was born at the 30th day of a month or in an intercalary month.

  1. if someone was born in an intercalary month(except intercalary Shieryue), his birthday is in the common month(the month before the intercalary month).
  2. if someone was born in Shieryue, and Layue is the intercalary Shieryue, his birthday is in Layue(the last month of a year)
  3. if someone was born at 30th day of a month, his birthday is the last day of the month(If the 30th day is inexistent, his birthday of the year is the 29th day of the month; otherwise, the 30th day of the month.

Year number system

Era system
Main article: Chinese era name

In the Ancient China, years were numbered from 1, beginning when a new emperor ascended the throne or the current emperor announced a new era name. The first reign title was Jiànyuán ( Chinese: 建元; literally: "era establishment", 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 era name of Emperor Ping of Han, Yuánshí ( Chinese: 元始; literally: "era beginning").

Stem-branches system

The 60 stem-branches were used to mark the date continually from Shang Dynasty. Before Han Dynasty, people knew the orbital period of Jupiter is about 4332 days, which is about 12*361 days. So, the orbital period of Jupiter was divided into 12 periods, which was used to number the year. The Jupiter was called as the star of age ( traditional Chinese: 嵗星; simplified Chinese: 岁星; pinyin: suìxīng), and the 1/12 Jupiter orbital period was called as the age ( traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: ; pinyin: suì).

361 days is just 6 cycles of 60-stem-branches, so the stem-branches of the first day move forward one after each sui. The first day of each sui was called as the sui capital ( traditional Chinese: 太嵗; simplified Chinese: 太岁; pinyin: tàisuì).

And the stem-branches of the taisui was used to mark the year. Obviously, there're two taisui in some year for the sui is shorter than solar rear. About after each 86 year, a taisui was leaped. The leaped of the sui was called as beyond the star ( Chinese: 超辰; pinyin: chāochén).

At the eastern Han Dynasty, the chaochen are abolished, and the 60 stem-branches are used to mark year continually without leap.

The Stem-branches year number system provided a solution for the defect of era system(unequal length of the reign titles)

Continuous year numbering

Occasionally, nomenclature similar to that of the Christian era has been used, such as [6]

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 assumes an epoch (1st year) of 2698 BCE. This declaration was adopted by many overseas Chinese communities outside Southeast Asia such as San Francisco's Chinatown. [7]

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 BCE). 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 BCe. There is no evidence that this calendar was used before the 20th century. [8] 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 is 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 time 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.

Phenology

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).

Festivals

In the Sinosphere, the traditional festivals are calculated using the date or solar terms, and are considered auspicious.

Traditional festivals in the Sinosphere
Festival English Define Original Define (Han Dynasty) Date of the following... Remark
Major traditional festivals on fixed date
臘日/腊日
Lari
0008
Sacrifice Day
Làyuè 8 The third Xuri (戌) after the Winter Solstice 2017-01-05
小年
Xiaonian
0023/0024
Preliminary Eve
Làyuè 23/24 23-officers,
24-civilians,
25-monks,
for convenience
2017-01-20
2017-01-21
the cleanup day before New Year's Week
除夕
Chuxi
0100
New Year's Eve
the last day of the year, Làyuè 29 or 30 2017-01-27 a statutory holiday
春節/春节
Chunjie
0101
New Year's Day
The first day of the year, Zhēngyuè 1 2017-01-28 a statutory holiday
上元
Shangyuan
0115
Shangyuan
Zhēngyuè 15 The first full moon of the year 2017-02-11 Also called as Yuanxiao (the night of the first full moon), an annual carnival in ancient China
上巳
Shangsi
0303
Outing Festival
Sānyuè 3 The first Siri(巳) of Sanyue 2017-03-30 a version of Qingmin Festival, The origin of Thailand water splashing festival
佛誕/佛诞
Fodan
0408
Buddha's Birthday
Sìyuè 8 2017-05-03 a statutory holiday in Hong Kong SAR
端午
Duanwu
0505
Dragon Boat Festival
Wǔyuè 5 The First Wuri(午) of Wuyue 2017-05-30 a statutory holiday
七夕
Qixi
0707
Star Festival
Qīyuè 7 2017-08-28 Ingenuity Maiden's Day
中元
Zhongyuan
0715
Ghost Festival
Qīyuè 15 The full moon at the mid-year 2017-09-05 the worship of ancestors
中秋
Zhongqiu
0815
Mid-Autumn Festival
Bāyuè 15 The full moon at the mid-autumn 2017-10-04 Reunion Day, a statutory holiday
重陽/重阳
Chongyang
0909
Climbing Festival
Jiǔyuè 9 2017-10-28 Regarded as Elder's Day in China

a statutory holiday in Hong Kong SAR

十月朝
Shiyue Chao
1001
Shiyue Worship
Shíyuè 1 The New Year's Day of Qin Calendar 2017-11-18 Issue Royal calendar (almanac) for the following year.
下元
Xiayuan
1015
Spirit Festival
Shíyuè 15 The first full moon in Qin calendar 2017-12-02 the worship of worthy
Major traditional festivals on solar term
立春
Lichun
Beginning of Spring The day that Spring commences
about February 4
Zhēngyuè 8
(February 3)
The day of the Stimulation of Agriculture
寒食
Hanshi
Cold Food Festival the 105th day after the Winter Solstice
about April 4
Sānyuè 7, 2017
(April 3)
The fast before the worship of ancestors at Qingming Festival.
清明
Qingming
Qingming Festival The day of the solar term of Bright and Clear
about April 5
Sānyuè 8, 2017
(April 4)
The day of the worship of ancestors, a statutory holiday
冬至
Dongzhi
Winter Solstice The day of the Winter Solstice
about December 21
Shíyīyuè 5, 2017
(December 22)
The node of the solar years
春社/秋社
Chunshe/Qiushe
Spring/Autumn Pray the fifth Wùrì(戊) after Spring/Autumn Commences March 21
September 23
a version of Spring/Autumn equinox
The traditional business festivals
開市/开市
Kaishi
0105
Opening Day
Zhēngyuè 5 In the old days, merchants used to open their stores from Zhēngyuè 5, and host a prayer service on that day. God of Wealth's Day, which the prayer service is called God of Wealth is Welcome.
頭牙/尾牙
头牙/尾牙
Touya & Weiya
0202/0016
First/Last Thanksgiving
Èryuè 2 / Làyuè 16 In the Ancient China, business owners hosted the Yaji rites( Chinese: 牙祭; pinyin: Yaji) at the 2nd and 16th day of each month from Eryue to Layue, to reward the local guardian god and their employees. The First/Last Thanksgiving rite is hold on Èryue 2/Làyuè 16.
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