Chinese calendar

Article

January 21, 2022

The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar (simplified Chinese: 阴阳历; traditional Chinese: 陰陽曆; pinyin: yīn-yáng lì), the months are lunar months, i.e. the first day of each month ( 29 or 30 days) coincides with the new moon (and the 15th day with the full moon); as 12 lunar months do not form a solar year (11 days are missing), seven additional months (闰月, rùnyuè) are added during a period of nineteen years, so that the year remains compatible overall with the solar year. During Antiquity, various observations (movements of the Moon, the Sun and the planet Jupiter, length of shadows, relative duration of days and nights, agricultural phenomena) were combined to arrive under the Han at a very similar calendar. of the current one. According to tradition, the first calendar system (sexagesimal cycle) was created by the Yellow Emperor in 2637 BCE and applied from his year of birth, 2697 BCE, or conception, 2698 BCE. The Gregorian calendar was officially adopted by the Republic of China in 1912 (with several adaptations such as year 1 corresponding to the founding of the Republic), but due to the maintenance of popular habits and the occupation of northern China by the Lords of the war, it was necessary to wait until January 1, 1929 so that it is applied on all the extent of the territory. The official time chosen was that of the first ports open to the West, on the east coast (120° East longitude), and no longer that of Beijing. Based on astrology and astronomy, the Chinese calendar, whose months are based on the cycles of the Moon, is widely used by peasants to manage agriculture. Traditional festivals, such as the Chinese New Year, celebrating the arrival of spring and putting a break from working in the fields, and the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrating Chang'e, a woman trapped on the Moon and visible to her lover this full moon day, are based on this calendar. The Chinese calendar has several names, the most common being 夏历 / 夏曆, xiàlì, "Xia calendar" and 农历 / 農曆, nónglì, "agricultural calendar", or in everyday language 阴历 / 陰曆, yīnlì, "lunar calendar" which is the usual name for the “lunisolar calendar”. The official calendar is called 公历 / 公曆, gōnglì, "common calendar" or 西历 / 西曆, xīlì, "Western calendar", and in everyday language 阳历 / 陽曆, yánglì, "solar calendar". Non-Han populations generally had their own calendars, which are still used by these different ethnic groups to determine their feast days.

Evolution

The luni-solar association is old, since we found on divinatory writings of the Shang dynasty (around 1570 to 1045 BC) the year of 12 lunar months with 1 or 2 intercalary months. It is from 841 BC. BC (Western Zhou) that we have precise calendar indications. The first month of the Zhou calendar always begins around the winter solstice; there is no precise astronomical rule for the place of the intercalary month. The royal calendar is not in force everywhere because the vassals sometimes enact another one of their choice in their fiefdom, particularly from the Warring States, when the central power no longer weighs against the rise of hegemons. It was around this period, in 484 BC. J.-C., that appears a system comparable to the metonic cycle which envisages seven so-called embolismic years (each containing an additional month) distributed over a cycle of 19 years. In 256 BC. J.-C., the kingdom of Qin fixes the 11th month at the winter solstice. As Qin will found the empire, this principle will be taken up by the Han for the Taichu calendar or

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