Chinese Holidays Calendars 2011

History of Chinese Calendar

In China, the calendar was a sacred document, sponsored by the reigning monarch. For more than two millennia, a Bureau of Astronomy made astronomical observations, calculated astronomical events such as eclipses, prepared astrological predictions, and maintained the calendar. A successful calendar not only served practical needs, but also confirmed the relationship between Heaven and the imperial court. Analysis of surviving astronomical records inscribed on oracle bones reveals a Chinese lunisolar calendar, with intercalation of lunar months, dating back to the Shang dynasty of the second millennium BC.


Chinese Lunar Calendar

The Chinese lunar calendar is based on the sightings of the moon to determine calendar events. In China today, the Gregorian Calendar is used for most day-to-day activities, but the Chinese calendar is used for marking traditional Chinese holidays - such as Chinese New Year and for choosing the most auspicious date for a wedding or the opening of a building. Because each month follows one cycle of the moon, it is also used to determine the phases of the moon.

Chinese New Year

From the earliest records, the beginning of the year occurred at a New Moon near the winter solstice. In the late second century B.C.E., a calendar reform established the practice, which continues today, of requiring the winter solstice to occur in month 11. This reform also introduced the intercalation system in which dates of New Moons are compared with the 24 solar terms.

Years were counted from a succession of eras established by reigning emperors. Although the accession of an emperor would mark a new era, an emperor might also declare a new era at various times within his reign. The introduction of a new era was an attempt to reestablish a broken connection between Heaven and Earth. The break might be because of the death of an emperor, the occurrence of a natural disaster, or the failure of astronomers to predict a celestial event such as an eclipse. In the latter case, a new era might begin.

Chinese New Year Dates

Chinese New Year is the most important celebration in the Chinese Calendar. The Chinese year 4705 begins on February 18, 2007. The Chinese New Year festivities start on the eve of the first day of the lunar month and continue unofficially until the 15th day, when the moon is the brightest. In China, people may take off weeks from work in preparation for the Chinese New Year activities.
  • February 18, 2007 Chinese New Year
  • February 7, 2008 Chinese New Year
  • January 26, 2009 Chinese New Year
  • February 14, 2010 Chinese New Year
  • February 3, 2011 Chinese New Year
Since over one-fourth of the world's population observes Chinese New Year, it has a global effect on how businesses operate. Our International Planners include not only the Chinese New Year Date but also holidays of other Chinese days and countries throughout Asia.