[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Chinese Lunar Calendar, Traditional Chinese Calendar [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Chinese Lunar Calendar

Chinese Leap Years

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Leap years have 13 months. To determine if a year is a leap year, calculate the number of new moons between the 11th month in one year (i.e., the month containing the Winter Solstice) and the 11th month in the following year. If there are 13 new moons from the start of the 11th month in the first year to the start of the 11th month in the second year, a leap month must be inserted.

    In leap years, at least one month does not contain a Principal Term. The first such month is the leap month. It carries the same number as the previous month, with the additional note that it is the leap month.

How Does One Count Years?

    Unlike most other calendars, the Chinese lunar calendar does not count years in an infinite sequence. Instead years have names that are repeated every 60 years.

    (Historically, years used to be counted since the accession of an emperor, but this was abolished after the 1911 revolution.)

    Within each 60-year cycle, each year is assigned name consisting of two components:

    The first component is a Celestial Stemm. These words have no English equivalent:


    1. jia 6. ji
    2. yi 7. geng
    3. bing 8. xin
    4. ding 9. ren
    5. wu    10. gui

    The second component is a Terrestrial Branch. The names of the corresponding animals in the zodiac cycle of 12 animals are given in parentheses.


    1. zi (rat) 7. wu (horse)
    2. chou (ox) 8. wei (sheep)
    3. yin (tiger) 9. shen (monkey)
    4. mao (hare, rabbit) 10. you (rooster)
    5. chen (dragon) 11. xu (dog)
    6. si (snake)    12. hai (pig)

    Each of the two components is used sequentially. Thus, the 1st year of the 60-year cycle becomes jia-zi, the 2nd year is yi-chou, the 3rd year is bing-yin, etc. When we reach the end of a component, we start from the beginning: The 10th year is gui-you, the 11th year is jia-xu (restarting the Celestial Stem), the 12th year is yi-hai, and the 13th year is bing-zi (restarting the Terrestrial Branch). Finally, the 60th year becomes gui-hai.

    This way of naming years within a 60-year cycle goes back approximately 2000 years. A similar naming of days and months has fallen into disuse, but the date name is still listed in calendars.

    It is customary to number the 60-year cycles since 2637 B.C.E., when the calendar was supposedly invented. In that year the first 60-year cycle started.

What Is the Current Year in the Chinese lunar calendar?

    The current 60-year cycle started on 2 Feb 1984. That date bears the name bing-yin in the 60-day cycle, and the first month of that first year bears the name gui-chou in the 60-month cycle.

    This means that the year wu-yin, the 15th year in the 78th cycle, started on 28 Jan 1998. The 20th year in the 78th cycle, started on 1 Feb 2003.

    The following are dates for Chinese/Lunar New Year's day:

    Chinese year   Zodiac animal   Gregorian calendar
    4693 Boar January 31, 1995
    4694 Rat February 19, 1996
    4695 Ox February 7, 1997
    4696 Tiger January 28, 1998
    4697 Hare/Rabbit February 16, 1999
    4698 Dragon February 5, 2000
    4699 Snake January 24, 2001
    4700 Horse February 12, 2002
    4701 Ram/Sheep February 1, 2003
    4702 Monkey January 22, 2004
    4703 Rooster February 9, 2005
    4704 Dog January 29, 2006
    4705 Boar February 18, 2007
    4706 Rat February 7, 2008
    4707 Ox January 26, 2009
    4708 Tiger February 10, 2010
    4709 Hare/Rabbit February 3, 2011
    4710 Dragon January 23, 2012
    4711 Snake February 10, 2013
    4712 Horse January 31, 2014
    4713 Ram/Sheep February 19, 2015
    4714 Monkey February 9, 2016
    4715 Rooster January 28, 2017
    4716 Dog February 16, 2018
    4717 Boar February 5, 2019
    4718 Rat January 25, 2020


What about the year 2033?

    In the early 1990s, Chinese astronomers discovered that there was an error in the Chinese lunar calendar for 2033. The traditional calendar claimed that the leap month would follow the 7th month, while in fact it comes after the 11th month. It is very unusual that the 11th month has a leap month, in fact it hasn't happened since the calendar reform in 1645 (before 1645, all months had the same probability for having a leap month). But many Chinese astronomers still claim that there will never be a leap month after the 12th and 1st month. In addition, there will be a leap month after the 1st month in 2262 (in fact, it should have happened in 1651, but they got the calculations wrong!) and there will be a leap month after the 12th month in 3358. Since the Chinese lunar calendar is an astronomical calendar, predictions require delicate astronomical calculations, so my computations for 3358 should probably be taken with a grain of salt.


 

[BACK to TOP]

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Above article is based on information from an article on webexhibits, WebExhibits, Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]