Chinese Calendar 中国历法 – Mystery Revealed

Today in China the Gregorian calendar from January 1st to December 31st is used in every day life.  However, the traditional Chinese calendar remains very important.  Years, months and days in this lunisolar calendar are set according to astronomical phenomena. The Chinese calendar has several names in Chinese: Nónglì农历, Jiùlì旧历, Lǎolì老历or Yīnlì阴历.

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. The year is divided into stems and branches creating what is known as a sexagenary cycle of sixty terms – this is how time was reckoned in ancient China.

The traditional Chinese calendar has a long history – it was developed between 771 and 476 BC, during the Spring and Autumn period of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty.

The date of Chinese New Year is different each year as it is determined by the Chinese calendar. The Chinese calendar is used for the dates of traditional Chinese festivals and guides people in selecting auspicious days for weddings, funerals, moving, or starting a business.

In China, a person’s official age is based on the Gregorian calendar but, according to tradition, Chinese people’s age is based on the Chinese calendar. At birth, a child is considered to be one year’s old; after each Chinese New Year, one year is added to their traditional age. To avoid confusion, infants’ ages are often given in months instead of years. After the Gregorian calendar was introduced in China, the Chinese traditional age was referred to as the “nominal age” (虚岁, xūsuì) and the Gregorian age was known as the “real age” (实岁, shísùi).

Do you know the date today on the Chinese calendar?