The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, it’s also called chinese lunar calendar.Incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. It is not exclusive to China, but followed by many other Asian cultures. In most of East Asia today, the Gregorian calendar is used for day-to-day activities, but the Chinese calendar is still used for marking traditional East Asian holidays such as the Chinese New Year (the Spring Festival ), the Duan Wu festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival, and in astrology, such as choosing the most auspicious date for a wedding or the opening of a building. Because each month follows one cycle of the moon, it is also used to determine the phases of the moon.
In China, the traditional calendar is often referred to as "the Xia Calendar" following a comment in the Shiji which states that under the Xia Dynasty, the year began on the second new moon after the winter solstice. (At times under some other dynasties in ancient China, the year might begin on the first or third new moon after the winter solstice.) It is also known as the "agricultural calendar" ,while the Gregorian calendar is known as the "common calendar" .Another name for the Chinese calendar is the "Yin Calendar" , in reference to the lunar aspect of the calendar, whereas the Gregorian calendar is the "Yang Calendar" ,in reference to its solar properties. The Chinese calendar was also called the "old calendar",after the "new calendar" , i.e., the Gregorian calendar, was adopted as the official calendar. Since the time of Emperor Wu of Han, starting the new year on the second new moon after the winter solstice has been the norm for more than two thousand years.
The year 2011 in the Chinese calendar is the Year of the Rabbit. It lasts from February 3, 2011, to Jan 22, 2012. According to traditional beliefs, some form of the calendar has been in use for almost five millennia. Based on archaeological evidence some form of it has been in use for three and a half millennia. It is reckoned in the seldom-used continuously numbered system as 4707 or 4647 (depending on the epoch used, see Continuously numbered years).
Chinese calendar rules:
The following rules outline the Chinese calendar since 104 BCE. Note: the rules allow either mean or true motions of the Sun and Moon to be used, depending on the historical period.
- The months are lunar months. This means the first day of each month beginning at midnight is the day of the astronomical dark moon. (This differs from a traditional Chinese "day" which begins at 11 p.m.).
- Each year has 12 regular months, which are numbered in sequence (1 to 12) and have alternative names. Every second or third year has an intercalary month, which may come after any regular month. It has the same number as the preceding regular month, but is designated intercalary.
- Every other jiéqì of the Chinese solar year is equivalent to an entry of the sun into a sign of the tropical zodiac (a principal term or cusp).
- The sun always passes the winter solstice (enters Capricorn) during month 11.
- If there are 12 months between two successive occurrences of month 11, not counting either month 11, at least one of these 12 months must be a month during which the sun remains within the same zodiac sign throughout (no principal term or cusp occurs within it). If only one such month occurs, it is designated intercalary, but if two such months occur, only the first is designated intercalary. Note that for calendars before true motions of the sun were used for naming (i.e., before 1645), or in years where there is no double-cusp month in that year or the previous or following years (i.e., usually), the following rule suffices: a month with no principal term (or cusp) in it is designated intercalary.
- The times of the astronomical new moons and the sun entering a zodiac sign are determined using the time in the Chinese Time Zone by the Purple Mountain Observatory outside Nanjing using modern astronomical equations.
The Chinese Lunar Calendar names each of the twelve years after an animal. Legend has it that the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from earth. Only twelve came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived. The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on personality, saying: "This is the animal that hides in your heart."