Chinese calendar

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2017 Chinese calendar Chinese Calendar of 2017.png
2017 Chinese calendar
Page of a Chinese calendar Chinese Calendar(Daoguang 15).jpg
Page of a Chinese calendar

The traditional China calendar (officially known as the Rural Calendar [農曆; 农历; Nónglì; "farming calendar"]), or Former Calendar (舊曆; 旧历; Jiùlì), Traditional Calendar (老曆; 老历; Lǎolì) or Lunar Calendar (陰曆; 阴历; Yīnlì; " yin calendar"), is a lunisolar calendar which reckons years, months and days according to astronomical phenomena. It is defined by GB/T 33661-2017, "Calculation and promulgation of the Chinese calendar", issued by the Standardisation Administration of China on 12 May 2017.

Yin and yang Seemingly opposite or contrary forces that may actually be complementary

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. In Chinese cosmology, the universe creates itself out of a primary chaos of material energy, organized into the cycles of Yin and Yang and formed into objects and lives. Yin is the receptive and Yang the active principle, seen in all forms of change and difference such as the annual cycle, the landscape, sexual coupling, the formation of both men and women as characters, and sociopolitical history.

A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the Moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year, then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year, then the calendar will predict the constellation near which the full moon may occur. As with all calendars which divide the year into months there is an additional requirement that the year have a whole number of months. In this case ordinary years consist of twelve months but every second or third year is an embolismic year, which adds a thirteenth intercalary, embolismic, or leap month.


Although modern day China uses the Gregorian calendar, the traditional Chinese calendar governs holidays (such as the Chinese New Year) in China and in overseas Chinese communities. It lists the dates of traditional Chinese holidays and guides people in selecting auspicious days for weddings, funerals, moving, or starting a business.

The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used civil calendar in the world. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. The calendar spaces leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422-day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun. The rule for leap years is:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.

Chinese New Year traditional Chinese holiday

Chinese New Year is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The festival is usually referred to as the Spring Festival in mainland China, and is one of several Lunar New Years in Asia. Observances traditionally take place from the evening preceding the first day of the year to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the year. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February. In 2019, the first day of the Chinese New Year was on Tuesday, 5 February, initiating the Year of the Pig.

Overseas Chinese are people of ethnic Chinese birth or descent who reside outside the territories of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Although a vast majority are Han Chinese, the group represents virtually all ethnic groups in China.

Like Chinese characters, variants of this calendar are used in different parts of the Chinese cultural sphere. Korea, Vietnam, and the Ryukyu Islands adopted the calendar, and it evolved into Korean, Vietnamese, and Ryukyuan calendars. The main difference from the traditional Chinese calendar is the use of different meridians, which leads to some astronomical events—and calendar events based on them—falling on different dates. The traditional Japanese calendar also derived from the Chinese calendar (based on a Japanese meridian), but its official use in Japan was abolished in 1873 as part of reforms after the Meiji Restoration. Calendars in Mongolia and Tibet have absorbed elements of the traditional Chinese calendar, but are not direct descendants of it.[ citation needed ]

Chinese characters logographic writing system used in the Sinosphere region

Chinese characters are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write a number of other Asian languages. They remain a key component of the Japanese writing system and are occasionally used in the writing of Korean. They were formerly used in Vietnamese and Zhuang. Collectively, they are known as CJK characters. Vietnamese is sometimes also included, making the abbreviation CJKV.

East Asian cultural sphere This sphere refers to a grouping of countries and regions that were historically influenced by the culture of China

The "East Asian cultural sphere" or "Sinosphere", refers to a grouping of countries and regions in East Asia that were historically influenced by the Chinese culture. Other names for the concept include the Sinic world, the Confucian world, the Taoist world, and the Chinese cultural sphere, though the last is also used to refer particularly to the Sinophone world: the areas which speak varieties of Chinese.

The traditional Korean calendar is a lunisolar calendar, similar to the Chinese calendar and traditional calendars of other East Asian countries. Dates are calculated from Korea's meridian, and observances and festivals are based in Korean culture.

Days begin and end at midnight, and months begin on the day of the new moon. Years begin on the second (or third) new moon after the winter solstice. Solar terms govern the beginning and end of each month. Written versions in ancient China[ when? ] included stems and branches of the year and the names of each month, including leap months as needed. Characters indicated whether a month was long ( , 30 days) or short ( , 29 days); stem branches for the first, eleventh, and 21st days, and the date, stem branch and time of the solar terms.

New moon phase of the moon

In astronomy, the new moon is the first lunar phase, when the Moon and Sun have the same ecliptic longitude. At this phase, the lunar disk is not visible to the unaided eye, except when silhouetted during a solar eclipse. Daylight outshines the earthlight that dimly illuminates the new moon. The actual phase is usually a very thin crescent.

Winter solstice astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year

The winter solstice, also known as midwinter, occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere. For that hemisphere, the winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky. At the pole, there is continuous darkness or twilight around the winter solstice. Its opposite is the summer solstice.

A solar term is any of 24 points in traditional East Asian lunisolar calendars that matches a particular astronomical event or signifies some natural phenomenon. The points are spaced 15° apart along the ecliptic and are used by lunisolar calendars to stay synchronized with the seasons, which is crucial for agrarian societies. The solar terms are also used to calculate intercalary months in East Asian calendars; which month is repeated depends on the position of the sun at the time.


Solar calendars

Five-phase and four-quarter calendars Five Phases and Four Seasons Calendar.png
Five-phase and four-quarter calendars

The traditional Chinese calendar was developed between 771 and 476 BC, during the Spring and Autumn period of the Eastern Zhou dynasty. Before the Zhou dynasty, solar calendars were used.

Spring and Autumn period period of ancient Chinese history

The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history from approximately 771 to 476 BC which corresponds roughly to the first half of the Eastern Zhou Period. The period's name derives from the Spring and Autumn Annals, a chronicle of the state of Lu between 722 and 479 BC, which tradition associates with Confucius.

Eastern Zhou geographic region

The Eastern Zhou was the second half of the Zhou dynasty of ancient China. It is divided into two periods: the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States.

Zhou dynasty Chinese dynasty

The Zhou dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang dynasty and preceded the Qin dynasty. The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history. The military control of China by the royal house, surnamed Ji, lasted initially from 1046 until 771 BC for a period known as the Western Zhou and the political sphere of influence it created continued well into Eastern Zhou for another 500 years.

One version of the solar calendar is the five-elements calendar (五行曆; 五行历), which derives from the Wu Xing. A 365-day year was divided into five phases of 73 days, with each phase corresponding to a Day 1 Wu Xing element. A phase began with a governing-element day (行御), followed by six 12-day weeks. Each phase consisted of two three-week months, making each year ten months long. Years began on a jiǎzǐ (甲子) day (and a 72-day wood phase), followed by a bǐngzǐ day (丙子) and a 72-day fire phase; a wùzǐ (戊子) day and a 72-day earth phase; a gēngzǐ (庚子) day and a 72-day metal phase, and a rénzǐ day (壬子) followed by a water phase. [1] Other days were tracked using the Yellow River Map (He Tu).

<i>Wu Xing</i> Chinese five elements

The Wu Xing, also known as the Five Elements, Five Phases, the Five Agents, the Five Movements, Five Processes, the Five Steps/Stages and the Five Planets of significant gravity: Mars-火, Mercury-水, Jupiter-木, Venus-金, Saturn-土 is the short form of "Wǔ zhǒng liúxíng zhī qì" (五種流行之氣) or "the five types of chi dominating at different times". It is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs. The "Five Phases" are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. This order of presentation is known as the "mutual generation" sequence. In the order of "mutual overcoming", they are Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal.

Yellow River Map

The Yellow RiverMap, Scheme, or Diagram is an ancient Chinese concept. It is related to the Lo Shu Square. The origins of the two from the rivers Luo and He are part of Chinese mythology. The development of the two are part of Chinese philosophy. (Wu:52)

Another version is a four-quarters calendar (四時八節曆; 四时八节历; "four sections, eight seasons calendar", or 四分曆; 四分历). Weeks were ten days long, with one month consisting of three weeks. A year had 12 months, with a ten-day week intercalated in summer as needed to keep up with the tropical year. The 10 Heavenly Stems and 12 Earthly Branches were used to mark days. [2]

A third version is the balanced calendar (調曆; 调历). A year was 365.25 days, and a month was 29.5 days. After every 16th month, a half-month was intercalated. According to oracle bone records, the Shang dynasty calendar (c.1600 – c.1046 BC) was a balanced calendar with 12 to 14 months in a year; the month after the winter solstice was Zhēngyuè. [3]

Lunisolar calendars

The first lunisolar calendar was the Zhou calendar (周曆; 周历), introduced under the Zhou dynasty. This calendar set the beginning of the year at the day of the new moon before the winter solstice. It also set the shàngyuán as the winter solstice of a dīngsì year, making the year it was introduced around 2,758,130.[ citation needed ]

Several competing lunisolar calendars were also introduced, especially by states fighting Zhou control during the Warring States period. The state of Lu issued its own Lu calendar(魯曆; 鲁历). Jin issued the Xia calendar (夏曆; 夏历) in AD 102, [4] with a year beginning on the day of the new moon nearest the March equinox. Qin issued the Zhuanxu calendar (顓頊曆; 颛顼历), with a year beginning on the day of the new moon nearest the winter solstice. Song's Yin calendar (殷曆; 殷历) began its year on the day of the new moon after the winter solstice.

These calendars are known as the six ancient calendars (古六曆; 古六历), or quarter-remainder calendars, (四分曆; 四分历; sìfēnlì), since all calculate a year as 365 14 days long. Months begin on the day of the new moon, and a year has 12 or 13 months. Intercalary months (a 13th month) are added to the end of the year. The Qiang and Dai calendars are modern versions of the Zhuanxu calendar, used by mountain peoples.

Qin and early Han dynasties

After Qin Shi Huang unified China under the Qin dynasty in 221 BC, the Qin calendar (秦曆; 秦历) was introduced. It followed most of the rules governing the Zhuanxu calendar, but the month order was that of the Xia calendar; the year began with month 10 and ended with month 9, analogous to a Gregorian calendar beginning in October and ending in September. The intercalary month, known as the second Jiǔyuè (後九月; 后九月; "later Jiǔyuè"), was placed at the end of the year. The Qin calendar was used into the Han dynasty.

Han-Ming dynasties and Taichu calendar

Emperor Wu of Han r. 141  87 BC introduced reforms halfway through his reign. His Taichu Calendar (太初曆; 太初历; "grand beginning calendar") defined a solar year as 365 3851539 days, and the lunar month was 29 4381 days. This calendar introduced the 24 solar terms, dividing the year into 24 equal parts. Solar terms were paired, with the 12 combined periods known as climate terms. The first solar term of the period was known as a pre-climate, and the second was a mid-climate. Months were named for the mid-climate to which they were closest, and a month without a mid-climate was an intercalary month.[ citation needed ]

The Taichu calendar established a framework for traditional calendars, with later calendars adding to the basic formula. The Dàmíng Calendar (大明曆; 大明历; "brightest calendar"), created in the Liang dynasty by Zhu Chongzhi, introduced the equinoxes. The use of a syzygy to determine the lunar month was first described in the Tang dynasty Wùyín Yuán Calendar (戊寅元曆; 戊寅元历; "earth tiger epoch calendar"). The Yuan dynasty Shòushí calendar (授时曆; 授时历; "teaching time calendar") used spherical trigonometry to find the length of the tropical year. [5] [6] [7] The calendar had a 365.2425-day year, identical to the Gregorian calendar. [8]

Modern calendars

Although the Chinese calendar lost its place as the country's official calendar at the beginning of the 20th century, [9] its use has continued. The Republic of China adopted UTC+08:00 in 1928, but the change to a single time zone ; some calendars followed the last calendar of the Qing dynasty, published in 1908. This caused confusion about the date of the 1978 Mid-Autumn Festival, and those areas then switched to the UTC+8-based calendar. [10]

Shíxiàn calendar

During the late Ming dynasty, Xu Guangqi and his colleagues worked out a new calendar based on Western astronomical arithmetic; however, the new calendar was not released before the end of the dynasty. In the early Qing dynasty, Johann Adam Schall von Bell submitted the calendar to the Shunzhi Emperor. The Qing government issued it as the Shíxiàn (seasonal) calendar.

In this calendar, the solar terms are 15° each along the ecliptic and it can be used as a solar calendar. However, the length of the climate term near perihelion is less than 30 days and there may be two mid-climate terms. The Shíxiàn calendar changed the mid-climate-term rule to "decides the month in sequence, except the intercalary month."[ This quote needs a citation ] The present traditional calendar follows the Shíxiàn calendar, except:

  1. The baseline is Chinese Standard Time, rather than Beijing local time.
  2. Astronomical data is used, rather than mathematical calculations.


To optimize the Chinese calendar, astronomers have proposed a number of changes. Gao Pingzi (高平子; 1888–1970), a Chinese astronomer who co-founded the Purple Mountain Observatory, proposed that month numbers be calculated before the new moon and solar terms be rounded to the day. Since the intercalary month is determined by the first month without a mid-climate and the mid-climate time varies by time zone, countries which adopted the calendar but calculate with their own time could vary from the time in China.[ citation needed ]

Outlying areas

Calendars of ethnic groups in the mountains and plateaus of southwestern China and the grasslands of northern China are based on their phenology and algorithms of traditional calendars of different periods, particularly the Tang and pre-Qin dynasties.[ citation needed ]



Elements of the traditional Chinese calendar are:

The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, similar to the Hindu and Hebrew calendars.


The movements of the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (known as the seven luminaries) are the references for calendar calculations.

The Big Dipper is the celestial compass, and its handle's direction determines the season and month. The stars are divided into Three Enclosures and 28 Mansions according to their location in the sky relative to Ursa Minor, at the centre. Each mansion is named with a character describing the shape of its principal asterism. The Three Enclosures are Purple Forbidden, ( 紫微 ), Supreme Palace ( 太微 ), and Heavenly Market. ( 天市 ) The eastern mansions are , , , , , , . Southern mansions are , , , , , , . Western mansions are , , , , , , . Northern mansions are , , , , , , . The moon moves through about one lunar mansion per day, so the 28 mansions were also used to count days. In the Tang dynasty, Yuan Tiangang (袁天罡) matched the 28 mansions, seven luminaries and yearly animal signs to yield combinations such as "horn-wood-flood dragon" ( ).


Several coding systems are used to avoid ambiguity. The Heavenly Stems is a decimal system. The Earthly Branches, a duodecimal system, mark dual hours (shí, ; or shíchen ( 時辰 ; 时辰 )) and climatic terms. The 12 characters progress from the first day with the same branch as the month (first Yín day ( ) of Zhēngyuè; first Mǎo day ( ) of Èryuè), and count the days of the month.

The stem-branches is a sexagesimal system. The Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches make up 60 stem-branches. The stem-branches mark days and years. The five elements of the Wu Xing are assigned to each of the stems, branches and stem-branches.


Explanatory chart for traditional Chinese time Chinese time.png
Explanatory chart for traditional Chinese time

China has used the Western hour-minute-second system to divide the day since the Qing dynasty. [11] Several era-dependent systems had been in use; systems using multiples of twelve and ten were popular, since they could be easily counted and aligned with the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches.


As early as the Bronze-Age Xia dynasty, days were grouped into nine- or ten-day weeks known as xún ( ). [12] Months consisted of three xún. The first 10 days were the early xún ( 上旬 ), the middle 10 the mid xún ( 中旬 ), and the last nine (or 10) days were the late xún ( 下旬 ). Japan adopted this pattern, with 10-day-weeks known as jun(). In Korea, they were known as sun (,).

The structure of xún led to public holidays every five or ten days. During the Han dynasty, officials were legally required to rest every five days (twice a xún, or 5–6 times a month). The name of these breaks became huan ( ; , "wash").

Grouping days into sets of ten is still used today in referring to specific natural events. "Three Fu" ( 三伏 ), a 29–30-day period which is the hottest of the year, reflects its three-xún length. [13] After the winter solstice, nine sets of nine days were counted to calculate the end of winter. [14]

The seven-day week was adopted from the Hellenistic system by the 4th century CE, although its source is unclear. It was again transmitted to China in the 8th century by Manichaeans via Kangju (a Central Asian kingdom near Samarkand), [15] [lower-alpha 1] [lower-alpha 2] and is the most-used system in modern China.


Months are defined by the time between new moons, which averages approximately 29 1732 days. There is no specified length of any (numbered) Chinese month, so e.g. the first month will have 29 days (short month, 小月 ) in some years and 30 days (long month, 大月 ) in other years.

A 12-month-year using this system has 354 days, which would drift significantly from the tropical year. To fix this, traditional Chinese years have a 13-month year approximately once every three years. The 13-month version has the same alternation of long and short months, but adds a 30-day leap month ( 閏月 ) at the end of the year. Years with 12 months are called common years, and 13-month years are known as long years.

Although most of the above rules were used until the Tang dynasty, different eras used different systems to keep lunar and solar years aligned. The synodic month of the Taichu calendar was 29 4381 days long. The 7th-century, Tang-dynasty Wùyín Yuán Calendar was the first to determine month length by synodic month instead of the cycling method. Since then, month lengths have primarily been determined by observation and prediction.

The days of the month are numbered beginning with 1, and the day number is written with two characters. Days one to 10 are written with the day numeral, preceded by the character Chū ( ); Chūyī ( 初一 ) is the first day of the month, and Chūshí ( ) the 10th. Days 11 to 20 are written as numerals; Shíwǔ ( 十五 ) is the 15th day of the month, and Èrshí ( 二十 ) the 20th. Days 21 to 29 are written with the character Niàn ( 廿 ) before the characters one through nine; Niànsān ( 廿三 ), for example, is the 23rd day of the month. Day 30 (as applicable) is written as the numeral Sānshí ( 三十 ).

History books use days of the month numbered with the 60 stem-branches:

天聖元年....二月.... , 奉安太祖、太宗御容于南京鴻慶宮.
Tiānshèng 1st year....Èryuè....Dīngsì, the emperor's funeral was at his temple, and the imperial portrait was installed in Nanjing's Hongqing Palace.

Because astronomical observation determines month length, dates on the calendar correspond to moon phases. The first day of each month is the new moon. On the seventh or eighth 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. On the 22nd or 23rd day of each month, the last-quarter moon is visible late at night and in the morning.

Since the beginning of the month is determined by the new moon occurs, other countries using this calendar use their own time standards to calculate it; this results in deviations. The first new moon in 1968 was at 16:29 UTC on January 29. Since North Vietnam used UTC+07:00 to calculate their Vietnamese calendar and South Vietnam used UTC+08:00 (Beijing time) to calculate theirs, North Vietnam began the Tết holiday at 29 January at 23:29 and South Vietnam began it on 30 January at 00:15. The time difference allowed asynchronous attacks in the Tet Offensive. [10]

Solar year and solar term

The solar year (; ; Suì), the time between winter solstices, is divided into 24 solar terms. Different versions of the traditional calendar might have different average solar-year lengths. One solar year of the 1st century BC Tàichū calendar is 365 3851539 (365.25016) days. A solar year of the 13th-century Shòushí calendar is 365 97400 (365.2425) days, identical to the Gregorian calendar. The additional .00766 day from the Tàichū calendar leads to a one-day shift every 130.5 years.

Pairs of solar terms are climate terms, or solar months. The first solar term is "pre-climate" (節氣; 节气; Jiéqì), and the second is "mid-climate" (中氣; 中气; Zhōngqì).

There are generally 11 or 12 complete months, plus two incomplete months around the winter solstice, in a solar year. The 11 mid-climates, except for the winter solstice, are in the 11 or 12 complete months. The complete months are numbered from 0 to 10, and the incomplete months are considered the 11th month.

The first month without a mid-climate is the leap, or intercalary, month. Leap months are numbered with rùn , the character for "intercalary", plus the name of the month they follow. In 2017, the intercalary month after month six was called Rùn Liùyuè, or "intercalary sixth month" ( 六月 ) and written as 6i or 6+. The next intercalary month (in 2020, after month four) will be called Rùn Sìyuè ( 四月 ) and written 4i or 4+.

Lunisolar year

The lunisolar year begins with the first spring month, Zhēngyuè ( 正月 ; "capital month"), and ends with the last winter month, Làyuè ( 臘月 ; 腊月 ; "sacrificial month"). All other months are named for their number in the month order. If a leap month falls after month 11—as it will in 2033—the 11th month will be Shíèryuè ( 十二月 ; "twelfth month"), and the leap month will be Làyuè.

Years were traditionally numbered by the reign in ancient China, but this was abolished after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. For example, the year from 8 February 2016 to 27 January 2017 was a Bǐngshēn year ( 丙申 ) of 12 months or 354 days .

During the Tang Dynasty, the Earthly Branches were used to mark the months from December 761 to May 762. [16] Over this period, the year began with the winter solstice.

Age reckoning

In China, a person's official age is based on the Gregorian calendar; for traditional use, age is based on the Chinese calendar. At birth, a child is considered one year old; after each Chinese New Year, one year is added to their traditional age. Because of the potential for confusion, infant ages are often given in months instead of years.

After the Gregorian calendar's introduction in China, the Chinese traditional age was referred to as the "nominal age" (虛歲; 虚岁; xūsuì; "fake age") and the Gregorian age was known as the "real age" (實歲; 实岁; shísùi; "real age").

Year-numbering systems


In ancient China, years were numbered from a new emperor's assumption of the throne or an existing emperor's announcement of a new era name. The first recorded reign title was Jiànyuán (建元; "founding era"), from 140 BC; the last reign title was Xuāntǒng (宣統; 宣统; "announcing unification"), from 1908 AD. The era system was abolished in 1912, after which the current or Republican era was used.


The 60 stem-branches have been used to mark the date since the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC). Astrologers knew that the orbital period of Jupiter is about 4,332 days. Since 4332 is 12 × 361, Jupiter's orbital period was divided into 12 years (; ; suì) of 361 days each. The stem-branches system solved the era system's problem of unequal reign lengths.

Continuous numbering

Nomenclature similar to that of the Christian era has occasionally been used: [17]

  • Huángdì year (黄帝紀年), starting at the beginning of the reign of the Yellow Emperor with year 1 at 2697 (or 2698) BC
  • Yáo year (唐堯紀年), starting at the beginning of the reign of Emperor Yao (year 1 at 2156 BC)
  • Gònghé year (共和紀年), starting at the beginning of the Gonghe Regency (year 1 at 841 BC)
  • Confucius year (孔子紀年), starting at the birth year of Confucius (year 1 at 551 BC)
  • Unity year (統一紀年), starting at the beginning of the reign of Qin Shi Huang (year 1 at 221 BC)

No reference date is universally accepted. The most popular is the Gregorian calendar ( 公曆 ; 公历 ; gōnglì; "common calendar").

On 2 January 1912, Sun Yat-sen announced changes to the official calendar and era. 1 January was 14 Shíyīyuè 4609 Huángdì year, assuming a year 1 of 2698 BC. The change was adopted by many overseas Chinese communities, such as San Francisco's Chinatown. [10]

During the 17th century, the Jesuits tried to determine the epochal year of the Han calendar. In his Sinicae historiae decas prima (published in Munich in 1658), Martino Martini (1614–1661) dated the ascension of the Yellow Emperor to 2697 BC and began the Chinese calendar with the reign of Fuxi (which, according to Martini, began in 2952 BC. Philippe Couplet's 1686 Chronological table of Chinese monarchs (Tabula chronologica monarchiae sinicae) gave the same date for the Yellow Emperor. The Jesuits' dates provoked interest in Europe, where they were used for comparison with Biblical chronology.[ citation needed ] Modern Chinese chronology has generally accepted Martini's dates, except that it usually places the reign of the Yellow Emperor at 2698 BC and omits his predecessors Fuxi and Shennong as "too legendary to include".[ This quote needs a citation ]

Publications began using the estimated birth date of the Yellow Emperor as the first year of the Han calendar in 1903, with newspapers and magazines proposing different dates. The province of Jiangsu counted 1905 as the year 4396 (using a year 0 of 2491 BC), and the newspaper Ming Pao (明報; 明报) reckoned 1905 as 4603 (using a year 0 of 2698 BC).[ citation needed ] Liu Shipei (劉師培, 1884–1919) created the Yellow Emperor Calendar, with year 0 as the birth of the emperor (which he determined as 2711 BC). There is no evidence that this calendar was used before the 20th century. [18] 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.


The plum-rains season ( 梅雨 ), the rainy season in late spring and early summer, begins on the first bǐng day after Mangzhong (芒种) and ends on the first wèi day after Xiaoshu (小暑). The Three Fu ( 三伏 ; sānfú) are three periods of hot weather, counted from the first gēng day after the summer solstice. The first fu (初伏; chūfú) is 10 days long. The mid-fu (中伏; zhōngfú) is 10 or 20 days long. The last fu (末伏; mòfú) is 10 days from the first gēng day after the beginning of autumn. [13] The Shujiu cold days (數九; shǔjǐu; "counting to nine") are the 81 days after the winter solstice (divided into nine sets of nine days), and are considered the coldest days of the year. Each nine-day unit is known by its order in the set, followed by "nine" (). [14]

See also


  1. The 4th-century date, according to the Cihai encyclopedia,[ year needed ] is due to a reference to Fan Ning ( 範寧 ; 范宁 ), an astrologer of the Jin dynasty.[ full citation needed ]
  2. The renewed adoption from Manichaeans in the 8th century (Tang dynasty) is documented with the writings of the Chinese Buddhist monk Yi Jing and the Ceylonese Buddhist monk Bu Kong.[ full citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Intercalation or embolism in timekeeping is the insertion of a leap day, week, or month into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases. Lunisolar calendars may require intercalations of both days and months.

Metonic cycle period of very close to 19 years that is nearly a common multiple of the solar year and the synodic (lunar) month

For astronomy and calendar studies, the Metonic cycle or Enneadecaeteris is a period of very close to 19 years that is nearly a common multiple of the solar year and the synodic (lunar) month. The Greek astronomer Meton of Athens observed that a period of 19 years is almost exactly equal to 235 synodic months and, rounded to full days, counts 6,940 days. The difference between the two periods is only a few hours, depending on the definition of the year.

Japanese calendar calendar

Japanese calendar types have included a range of official and unofficial systems. At present, Japan uses the Gregorian calendar together with year designations stating the year of the reign of the current Emperor.

The history of calendars, means that people creating and using methods for keeping track of days and larger divisions of time, covers a practice with ancient roots.

The sexagenary cycle, also known as the Stems-and-Branches or ganzhi, is a cycle of sixty terms used for reckoning time in China and the rest of the East Asian cultural sphere. It appears as a means of recording days in the first Chinese written texts, the Shang oracle bones of the late second millennium BC. Its use to record years began around the middle of the 3rd century BC. The cycle and its variations have been an important part of the traditional calendrical systems in Chinese-influenced Asian states and territories, particularly those of Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, with the old Chinese system still in use in Taiwan.

Buddhist calendar lunisolar calendar

The Buddhist calendar is a set of lunisolar calendars primarily used in mainland Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand as well as in Sri Lanka and Chinese populations of Malaysia and Singapore for religious or official occasions. While the calendars share a common lineage, they also have minor but important variations such as intercalation schedules, month names and numbering, use of cycles, etc. In Thailand, the name Buddhist Era is a year numbering system shared by the traditional Thai lunisolar calendar and by the Thai solar calendar.

Empress Xiaoduanwen, of the Khorchin Mongol Borjigit clan, personal name Jerjer, was a consort of Hong Taiji. She was seven years his junior.

A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign, from the Latin regnum meaning kingdom, rule.

Yulanpen Sutra

The Yulanpen Sutra, also known as the Ullambana Sutra(Chinese: 盂蘭盆經; pinyin: yú lán pén jīng; Japanese pronunciation: urabon-kyō; Korean: 우란분경; Vietnamese: Kinh Vu Lan Bồn), is a Mahayana sutra concerning filial piety. It was translated from an Indic language and is found in Taisho 685 and Taisho 686 in Volume 16, the third volume of the Collected Sutra Section. Taisho 685 was translated by Dharmarakṣa from 265-311 CE and is entitled: ‘The Buddha Speaks the Yulanpen Sutra’. Taisho 686 was translated by an unknown or lost translator during the Eastern Jin Dynasty and is entitled: ‘The Buddha Speaks the Sutra of Offering Bowls to Repay Kindness’. According to Karashima, Taisho 686 is basically a more idiomatic adaptation of Taisho 685. It records the events which followed after one of the disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha, Maudgalyayana, achieves Abhijñā and uses his newfound powers to search for his deceased parents. In the end, Maudgalyayana finds his mother in the preta world and with the assistance of the Buddha, is able to save her. The East Asian Ghost Festival is based on this sutra.

The traditional Chinese time systems refers to the time standards for divisions of the day used in China until the introduction of the Shixian calendar in 1628 at the beginning of the Qing dynasty.

Consort Donggo Chinese manchu Shunzhi emperor concubine under Qing Dynasty

Empress Xiaoxian, of the Manchu Plain White Banner Donggo clan, was a consort of the Shunzhi Emperor. She was one year his junior.

The Four Pillars of Destiny is a Chinese astrological concept that a person's destiny or fate can be divined by the two sexagenary cycle characters assigned to their birth year, month, day, and hour. This type of astrology is also used in Japan and Korea.

Minguo calendar calendar era used by the Republic of China, starting from 1912 CE (= year 1 of Minguo era)

The Republic of China Calendar is the official calendar of the Republic of China. Currently it is used to number the years for official purposes in Taiwan and other territories that remain under the ROC's control. Previously, it was used in mainland China from 1912 until the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 under the ROC's jurisdiction.

The Rokusei Senjutsu is a kind of Chinese astrology and a handy approximation of the Four Pillars of Destiny.

A Chinese era name is the regnal year, reign period, or regnal title used when traditionally numbering years in an emperor's reign and naming certain Chinese rulers. Some emperors have several era names, one after another, where each beginning of a new era resets the numbering of the year back to year one or yuán (元). The numbering of the year increases on the first day of the Chinese calendar each year. The era name originated as a motto or slogan chosen by an emperor.

<i>1587, a Year of No Significance</i> book on Chinese history by Ray Huang

1587, a Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline is Chinese historian Ray Huang's most famous work. First published by Yale University Press in 1981, it examines how a number of seemingly insignificant events in 1587 might have caused the downfall of the Ming dynasty.

Cao Jun, courtesy name Zi'an, was a prince of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was a son of Cao Cao, a warlord who rose to prominence towards the end of the Han dynasty and laid the foundation for the Cao Wei state. His mother was Lady Qin (秦夫人), a concubine of Cao Cao. She also bore Cao Cao another son, Cao Xuan. Cao Jun was enfeoffed as the Marquis of Mei (郿侯) in 216 during the reign of Emperor Xian in the Eastern Han dynasty. His marquisate was changed to Xiangyi County in the following year. In 221, a year after Cao Jun's elder half-brother Cao Pi ended the Han dynasty and established the state of Cao Wei, Cao Jun was promoted from a marquis to a duke. In 222, he received the title "Prince of Chenliu" (陳留王). Two years later, his princedom was changed from Chenliu to Xiangyi County. In 232, during the reign of Cao Pi's son Cao Rui, Cao Jun's princedom was relocated back to Chenliu. Cao Jun died in 259 during the reign of Cao Mao.

Puji Temple (Ningxiang)

Puji Temple is a Buddhist temple located on Furong Mountain in Ningxiang City, Hunan province, China.

Cao Lin was a prince of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was a son of Cao Cao, a warlord who rose to prominence towards the end of the Han dynasty and laid the foundation for the Cao Wei state. His mother was Lady Du (杜夫人), a concubine of Cao Cao. She also bore Cao Cao another son, Cao Gun. In 211, Emperor Xian, the last emperor of the Han dynasty, enfeoffed Cao Lin as the Marquis of Raoyang (饒陽侯). In 217, Cao Lin's title was changed to "Marquis of Qiao" (譙侯). In 221, a year after Cao Lin's half-brother Cao Pi usurped the throne from Emperor Xian and became the first emperor of the Cao Wei state, he enfeoffed Cao Lin as the Duke of Qiao (譙公). One year later, Cao Pi elevated Cao Lin from a duke to a prince under the title "Prince of Qiao" (譙王). In 226, he changed Cao Lin's title to "Prince of Juancheng" (鄄城王). In 232, Cao Pi's successor, Cao Rui, changed Cao Lin's title to "Prince of Pei" (沛王). Throughout the reigns of the subsequent Wei emperors, the number of taxable households in Cao Lin's dukedom increased until it reached 4,700. After Cao Lin died in 256, his son Cao Wei (曹緯) inherited his princedom as the new Prince of Pei. Cao Lin had a daughter, who married Ji Kang.


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Further reading

Calendar conversion