Calendar Feature: the Chinese Calendar

by Janice Jenkins - Date: 2007-07-03 - Word Count: 526 Share This!

According to Wikipedia, a calendar is a structure for identifying certain periods of time and days. It is often a physical device to remind the user of events and appointments. The very common and visible calendars are often made of paper. But with the advent of digital technology, calendars nowadays are already included in computer systems and mobile phones.

There are different types of calendar, the most famous and widely used of which is the Julian calendar. Another well known calendar is the Chinese calendar that combines the elements of both the lunar and solar calendars; hence it is called a "lunisolar" calendar.

Today, China uses the Gregorian calendar (or "common calendar") for day to day activities. However, for traditional Chinese holidays, the people use the Chinese calendar to choose the date for their event. Holidays marked by the Chinese calendar are the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, the Duan Wu Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival. They also use the calendar for setting the dates for weddings or openings of buildings. It is believed that choosing the dates according to the cycle of the moon customarily brings good fortune and good tidings.

Aside from the "lunisolar" calendar, the Chinese calendar has several adopted names. It is also known as the "agricultural calendar"; the "Yin calendar" to refer to its lunar feature; the "old calendar"; and the "Xia calendar" after the time of the Xia dynasty.

In the beginning...

According to Chinese tradition, the Chinese calendar was invented by Huangdi who was considered as the legendary father of the Chinese people, during his reign in 2697 BC.

On the other hand, it was during the Shang dynasty that evidence of the Chinese calendar was discovered. It was found engraved on oracle bones. Discoverers of the bones are convinced that these are evidence of a lunisolar year of 12 months. It was during this dynasty that the year began on the first appearance of the new moon after the winter season. Tradition claims that the Shang calendar was used until the middle of the 7th century.

During the Zhou dynasty, one whole year has 12 months, with each month containing 29 or 30 days from time to time. This is done to makes sure that the Chinese calendar catch up with what they call "drifts" between the calendar and the moon cycle.

At the start of the "Warring States", introduction of calculated calendars were introduced. This was brought about by developments made in astronomy and mathematics during that time. The first calculated Chinese calendar was the "Quarter Remainder" calendar which began in 484 BC. The calendar year started on the new moon after the winter solstice.

As the last Zhou emperor surrendered his empire to a new leader, a new calendar also emerged in 256 BC. Named after the new dynasty, the Qin calendar began during the second new moon before the winter season. This calendar was widely used until the beginning of the Western Han dynasty.

It was during the Han dynasty that the Chinese calendar benefited from immense reforms that has made the Chinese calendar what it is today.

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Janice Jenkins is a writer for a marketing company in Chicago, IL. Mostly into marketing research, Janice started writing articles early 2007 to impart her knowledge to individuals new to the marketing industry.

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