Tag Archives: farmers calendar

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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The Chinese Calendars

There are two Chinese Calendars, one based on the sun cycle and the other based on the moon cycle. Together they are sometimes called the Lunisolar Calendar! Also since the sun is yang and the moon yin, it is often referred to as the YinYang Calendars.


The Chinese Solar Calendar is also known as the Xia (Hsia) Calendar and has a history that dates back more than 4000 years. Since the Xia (Hsia) calendar is closely related and used to regulate agriculture, it is also called the Farmer’ Calendar.

The earth makes one rotation around the sun every 365 and a quarter day. Four of these quarter days make one extra day and this is why there is a leap year of 366 days every four years in the Western calendar that we use today.

Of the two Chinese Calendars, the Chinese Solar Calendar is most similar to the Western calendar except that instead of starting on the 1st of January, the Chinese solar year begins on the 1st day of Spring that falls on or around the 4th Feb. The exact starting date wobbles a little bit to account for the extra day that is accumulated every four years.

The Chinese Calendars and Seasons

There are four seasons in a year namely Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. This is sufficient for most people but for the purpose of agriculture (and Chinese metaphysics study), each season is further divided into 6 sub-seasons giving a total of 24 sub-seasons. These sub-seasons have descriptive names like rain water, insects awaken, corn rain, corn sprouting etc which gives clear hints to the farmers on the right time for planting and harvesting!

The Chinese Lunar Calendar on the other hand is based on the moon’s rotation around the earth which is approximately 29.5 days. Unfortunately the Lunar cycles do not match the Solar cycles. For example 12 lunar cycles (12 x 28.5) do not quite add up to 365 days. To synchronize the Lunar Calendar with the Solar Calendar, the Chinese added an extra month in seven (7) out of every nineteen (19) years. The extra month in certain years are known as leap month.

We can convert between the Chinese Calendars, both Solar and Lunar, and Western dates using a text reference known as The Ten Thousand Years Calendar. Do not be fooled by the name. Most books available in the market contains not more than 150 years of data.

You can also find the Chinese Solar and Lunar equivalent dates of any Western date by using this Chinese Calendars converter.

The Chinese New year festival celebrated by Chinese all over the world marks the first day of the Chinese Lunar year. Unlike the Chinese Solar new year which falls on or around the 4th Feb every year, the Chinese Lunar new year falls on a different date between January and February every year!

This is the Chinese Calendars for you.

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