The Xia Calendar

According to the classics, the Xia Emperor Yao instructed the Ho Hsi brothers to revise the calendar in 2405 BC.

This revised calendar is also known the as The Xia (Hsia) calendar. It is quite similar to the western Gregorian calendar as it is also based on the earth’s orbit around the sun. However instead of starting the year on the 1st of January, the Chinese Solar calendar start the year on the 1st day of Spring which falls on or around the 4th Feb. The earth takes 365 and a quarter day to orbit the sun.


Every quarter day makes one extra day and the western Gregorian calendar accounts for this extra day by inserting a day into Feb every 4 years. The Chinese Solar calendar takes account of this extra day by making adjustments to some of the years. This explains why the start of spring wobbles between the 3rd and 5th of February.

In the Xia Calendar, each year is divided into four seasons and 12 months. The naming convention is based on the Earthly Branches. The first month is Yin and this is followed by Mao, Chen and so on. Each month is further divided into two sub-months, the first known as Knot and the second half as Qi. This is illustrated in the table below.

Xia Calendar
MonthBranchKnot & QiWestern Dates
1YinStart of SpringFebruary 4th/5th
  Rain WaterFebruary 19th/20th
2MaoInsects AwakenMarch 6th/7th
  Spring EquinoxMarch 21st/22nd
3ChenClear BrightnessApril 5th/6th
  Grain RiceApril 20th/21th
4SiStart of SummerMay 6th/7th
  Small HarvestMay 21st/22nd
5WuSeed PlantingJun 6th/7th
  Summer SolsticeJun 21st/22nd
6WeiSlight HeatJuly 7th/8th
  Great HeatJuly 23rd/24th
7ShenStart of AutumnAugust 8th/9th
  Hidden HeatAugust 24th/25th
8XuWhite DewSeptember 8th/9th
  Autumn EquinoxSeptember 23rd/24th
9HaiCold DewOctober 8th/9th
  Frost DescendsOctober 23rd/24th
10JiStart of WinterNovember 7th/8th
  Slight SnowNovember 22nd/23rd
11ChouGreat SnowDecember 7th/8th
  Winter SolsticeDecember 22nd/23rd
12GirlSlight ColdJanuary 6th/7th
  Great ColdJanuary 21st/22nd

You may notice that the names of the Joint and Qi have an agricultural undertone. This is due to the fact the calendar was devised to regulate agriculture and it is also known as the Farmer’s Calendar.

You can use the on-line Ten Thousand Year Calendar to find the solar equivalent date for any western Gregorian day.

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