Chinese Lunar Calendars

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For those people who observe Chinese traditions and live outside of China, it's necessary to have one or more Chinese lunar calendars every year to keep track of the traditional events.

While Gregorian calendar is used in China for civil purposes; Chinese lunar calendar is used for traditional Chinese holidays. You'll have no idea when those traditional holidays, such as the Chinese Spring Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival, will be if you use a Gregorian calendar, or "common calendar" (Gong li) as Chinese people refer to it.

Of cource, if you use a double calender, which is a Gregorian calendar with the dates of the traditional holidays and festivals on it, you'll have the convenience for both your daily living and your arrangement for participation of traditional celebrations.

The Use of Lunar Calendar

Chinese people commonly use lunar calendar for the following purposes:

  • The celebration or observation of the traditional holidays and festivals

  • As an agricultural time guide:
    China's lunar calendar has been used as an agricultural time guide for thousands of years. If you were a Chinese farmer in older time, you'd need it to know when is the best time to plant rice or other grains.

  • keep track of the Chinese years

  • Chinese Zodiac
    Chinese lunar calendar is closely connected with Chinese zodiac signs or Chinese astrology. Folks like to use Lunar Calendar when it comes to choose the best day for an opening of a building or to determine the most auspicious date for a wedding. It's even used as an aid to find out love compatibilities. Of course, it is a believe-or-not-it's-up-to-you situation.

  • Chinese gender calendar

    It is based on the Chinese lunar calendar and has been circulated among people who want to have control of their baby's gender for quite a long time.

  • Horoscope

  • Feng shui

The Dating Method of the Chinese Lunar Calendar

Since the Chinese lunar calendar uses a cyclical dating method; it starts the lunar year based on the cycles of the moon. The beginning of a new year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. A complete cycle takes 60 years to finish and is made up of five cycles of 12 years each.

The 12 Chinese years recorded by Chinese lunar calendar are also named with twelve animals, which are pretty well known nowadays.

Because the lunar calendar is determined by the cycle of the moon, you won't be surprised how well a person knows the phases of the moon if (s)he knows the lunar calendar as well as her/his own palms.

Gregorian Calendar vs Lunar Calendar in China

The Gregorian calendar has a very short history in China, though is very commonly used today for daily activities. It was first adopted effective January 1, 1912 for the official business.

As we mentioned above, it's a "common calendar" while the lunar calendar is an "agricultural calendar" or a calendar with special functions, like to tell people when to celebrate tradtitional what.

The two types of calendars have opposite names, for example, the lunar calendar is called "Yin calendar" or "old calendar" in Chinese, and the Gregorian calendar is called "Yang calender" and "new calendar".

The lunar calendar is also called "Xia calendar" because it was first used in the Xia Dynasty 2100 BC. No wonder it is referred to as "old" and is always associated with the traditions of China.


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