The Chinese Calendar

Two calendars are used in China. The Gregorian calendar 阳历(yánglì) and the Chinese calendar 农历(nónglì). The Gregorian calendar is used in the same way as in Europe and the US. The Chinese calendar is used to predict the time of All the Chinese traditional festivals (The spring festival, the lantern festival, the dragon boat festival, the double seven festival, the ghost festival, and the mid-autumn festival), the most important of those festivals being the Spring festival or the Chinese New Year. Up to now, many Chinese people still remember their date of birth according to the Chinese calendar, making their date of birth very hard to remember for foreigners. Or they may tell you they have two birth dates, one from the Gregorian calendar and the other one from the Chinese calendar. The dates on all official documents (ID, Passport, etc.) are to be considered based on the Gregorian calendar.

How to know the difference?

You may wonder, how do we know from which calendar a festival or a celebration is based? Well, the celebration dates from the Gregorian calendar never change, they always happen on the same day every year. For example, the Chinese national day is a Gregorian calendar-based festival because it happens on the first of October every year. The same goes for Christmas, the new year and most of the other western festivals. However, festivals based on the Chinese calendar change every year. The spring festival happened on February first of the year 2022, but it will happen on January 22nd of the year 2023. The same goes for all the other Chinese calendar-based festivals.

What is The Lunar calendar?

The lunar calendar is a dating system that uses the moon phases to estimate and predict time. A moon full cycle takes 29.5 days to complete. The first day of the lunar calendar is the new moon. The new moon is a dark moon when we only see the unlit part of the moon. A lunar year takes 354 days to complete. The lunar calendar used alone cannot be used to forecast time and seasons because it will fall behind over time. In order to solve that shortcoming, a month is added every three years in some lunar-based calendars like the Chinese calendar. The Jewish calendar and the Islamic calendar are based on the lunar calendar.

If you want to learn more about moon cycles, I find this video very well made.

The solar calendar

The solar calendar is a dating system that uses the apparent position of the sun relative to stars to estimate and predict time, seasons and plan agricultural activities. The solar calendar is made of 12 months and 365 days since one revolution of the earth around the sun is 365.25 days. One day is added every 4 years to compensate for ¼ of a day not considered each year. The Gregorian calendar that is widely used is a type of solar calendar. It’s a tropical solar calendar.

The lunisolar calendar

The lunisolar calendar is a mix of the lunar and solar calendars. It consists of a year of twelve months and 354 days. A month is added every three years to compensate for the 11 missing days of each year. The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar.

If you want to learn more about the Chinese calendar, I find this video very well made.

The Chinese calendar began to be used during the Han dynasty, 206 BC to 220 AD.

Hello there, I’m Olivier Biafouna, I’m passionate about the Chinese language and Culture That’s why I write on this blog so I can share my passion and continue learning at the same time. I hope the content I shared with you was helpful. If you have any insight, feel free to leave it in the comment section. Thank you

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