Are you trying to find the equivalent Chinese dates for any Gregorian dates? If so, you are at the right place. But before I show you how, you may be interested to know that there are two Chinese dates for each Gregorian date.
Why? It is because there are two popular Chinese calendar systems in use today. The first is known as the Chinese Yang or Solar Calendar. As the name suggest this calendar is based on the earth’s rotation around the sun. It is also known as the Xia Calendar (name after the period that it was developed) or the Farmer’s Calendar (initially developed as an aid in farming). This calendar is also the basis for most Feng Shui systems. It is quite similar to the Gregorian calendar which is also a sun-based system.
The other Chinese calendar is known as the Yin or Chinese Lunar Calendar. This calendar is based on the moon’s rotation around the earth. However unlike other lunar based calendar system, the Chinese felt the need to sync it with the solar calendar. Hence leap months are added here and there to fill the gaps and the most significant thing about this calendar is that the 1st day of the Chinese Lunar year fluctuates between late January and late February. This calendar is used to mark many Chinese festivals and the calendar system for some Chinese astrology system such as the Emperor Astrology system.
Chinese Solar dates are normally expressed as four pillars namely the year, month, day and hour pillar. Each pillar comprise of a heavenly stem and an earthly branch as shown in the diagram on the left. For dates only (without time) the hour pillar is omitted.
Chinese Lunar dates are usually expressed in month, day and year format, for example, “Lunar Month 7 Big (or Small) Year of the Fire Horse (1960)”. The Big or Small suffix after the month denotes whether that month has 29 or 30 days. The Gregorian year is normally added because Chinese years are repeated every 60 days. For example 1924 and 1984 are both year of the Wood Rat and it would be confusing without the Gregorian Year suffix!
So how does one find the equivalent Chinese dates? The answer lies in a reference book called the “Ten Thousand Year Calendar”. Until recently this book is published in Chinese only. However nowadays it is not difficult to find English language versions.
The book is published in such as way that you can find the Chinese Solar and Lunar dates at the same time. I will illustrate using the example below. Let’s say you want to find the Chinese dates for 3rd May 1969 (Ji You – Year of the Earth Rooster). You would flip the Ten Thousand Year calendar reference until you come to the year 1969 (marked in green). A portion of the reference book for 1969 is reproduced below.
Gregorian 3rd May is marked in pink. To the right is the Chinese Lunar day of the 17th marked in yellow. If you look straight up, the 3rd of May falls under the column March S (Third Month Small) marked in blue. Hence the Chinese Lunar date is “Lunar Month Three (March) Small Day 17 Year of the Earth Rooster (1969)”.
The Chinese Solar Calendar is trickier. We already know the year pillar. It is “Ji You”, Year of the Earth Rooster. The Day pillar is “Wu Yin” (marked in orange) which is next to the Gregorian 3rd May. But what about the month pillar?
This requires some knowledge of the 24 Knots & Qi or 24 Sub-Seasons. The first solar month include the sub-seasons “Spring Arrives” and “Rain Water” while the second solar month includes “Insects Awaken” and “Spring Equinox”. The third solar month includes “Clear Brightness” and “Grain Rice” while the fourth solar month includes “Summer Arrives” and “Small Harvest”. If you look up the month column you will see that “Summer Arrives” or the fourth solar month starts on the 20th lunar day or Gregorian 6th of May. Thus the 3rd of May falls within the third solar month which is “Wu Chen” (marked in Gray).
The Chinese Solar equivalent of the Gregorian 3rd May 1969 is hence “Wu Yin” day, “Wu Chen” month and “Ji You” Year!
Is there is simpler way? Yes. Please visit my on-line Ten Thousand Year calendar!