Chinese Calendar

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Chinese Calendar

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In 1912, China officially adopted the Gregorian calendar. But the old soli-lunar system (Nong Li) is still relevant. There are at least two Chinese calendars (solar and lunar), but they both deal with the fundamental notion of heavenly stems and earthly branches. The solar calendar is used in Feng Shui and in the Four Pillars of the Destiny (Ba Zi astrology or Zi Ping). The lunar calendar is mainly used in the other branch of the Chinese astrology, the Zi Wei Dou Shu.

The Chinese calendar is based on the sexagesimal cycle: there are 60 possible combinations (binomials) of stems and branches. This periodicity of 60 years corresponds to a new alignment of the Earth with the Moon, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. The first observation dates back to 2637 b.c.e., which became the first year of the first cycle of 60 years. A period of 180 years is called a grand cycle and corresponds to three cycles of 60 years (called inferior cycle, median cycle, and superior cycle) and thus to nine periods of 20 years. The current grand cycle, the 26th one, started on February 4, 1864, and will last until February 3, 2044. The period of 1984 through February 2004 is the seventh period of the current grand cycle.

The solar new year begins at the precise time when the Sun goes over the 15 th degree of Aquarius, Beijing time. This corresponds to February 4 (sometimes February 5). This date is called Li Chun and marks the beginning of Chinese spring. Each solar month begins around the 4th or the 8th of the corresponding western month:

The first Chinese month = February (second Western month)

The second Chinese month = March (third Western month)

The eleventh Chinese month = December (twelfth Western month)

The twelfth Chinese month = January (first Western month)

The lunar new year is set on the winter solstice and can fall on any day between January 21 and February 20. A lunar year comprises 12 moons of 29 days (short moon) or 30 days (long moon), and regularly, a 13 th moon must be inserted to make up the gap. (A lunar calendar consists of moons, while a solar calendar consists of solar months.)

—Michele Delemme

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