Chinese Calendar

The Chinese Calendar is a type of lunisolar calendar which, based on the solar and lunar phases, marks the various celebrations and festivals of China…

Chinese CalendarAlthough the Gregorian calendar is used in China for civil purposes, a special Chinese calendar also exists to determine the date of festivals and celebrations as well as auspicious occasions like weddings. Despite only being used in China and by various Chinese communities around the world, knowledge of the Chinese calendar is widespread thanks to the worldwide popularity of the chinese horoscope and the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated by over one quarter of the world´s population.



Tracing as far back as the 14th Century, the Chinese calendar is a type of lunisolar calendar which uses the phases of the moon to mark the beginning of each month and the solar phases to denote the duration of the year.

The Months of the Chinese Calendar

The months of the Chinese calendar, based on astronomical observations of the lunar phases and the sun´s longitude, have a duration of around 29 or 30 days. In the Chinese calendar, the new moon signals the first day of each month and the full moon marks the precise midpoint of the month. Given that the Chinese calendar tries to coincide with the tropical year, it shares similarities with the Hebrew calendar. For example, an ordinary year consists of 12 lunar months and a leap year has 13 months.

In the Chinese calendar, each day of the month is identified by two characters:

 Chūyī(初一)  Chūèr(初二)  Chūsān(初三)  Chūsì(初四)  Chūwǔ(初五)  Chūlìu(初六)  
Chūqī(初七)  Chūbā(初八)  Chūjǐu(初九)  Chūshí(初十)
     Shíyī(十一)  Shíèr(十二)  Shísān(十三)  Shísì(十四)  Shíwǔ(十五)  Shílìu(十六)  Shíqī(十七)  Shíbā(十八)  Shíjǐu(十九)   Èrshí(二十)
    Niànyī(廿一) Niànèr(廿二) Niànsān(廿三) Niànsì(廿四) Niànwǔ(廿五) Niànlìu(廿六) 
Niànqī(廿七) Niànbā(廿八) Niànjǐu(廿九)  Sānshí(三十)

Years of the Chinese Calendar

Arranged into a repetitive cycle of 60 years, the Chinese calendar doesn´t have a defined number of days or months as it is adjusted to coincide with the average length of the solar year through the addition of extra months at regular intervals. Generally, the Chinese calendar varies between 353 and 355 days each year with a “leap year” interspersed which, equal to the duration of one extra month, increases the total number to between 383 and 385 days. The well-known Chinese New Year is celebrated at the second new moon after the winter solstice, falling between 21st January and 19th February on the Gregorian calendar.

The Chinese Horoscope

Each year in the Chinese calendar is named after one of the 12 animals of the chinese horoscope. This 12 year cycle is continuously repeated with all children born during a specific year taking the animal governing its birthday as its zodiac sign.

Rat 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Ox 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Tiger 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Rabbit 1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
Dragon 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Snake 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
Horse 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Goat 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Monkey 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
Rooster 1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
Dog 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
Pig 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031