When is Chinese New Year?

The Chinese lunisolar calendar (yin-yang li) began on December 23rd 2638 BCE in the Gregorian calendar. This was later simplified to 1st January 2637 BCE. It was the 61st year of reign of Huangdi, the mythological Yellow Emperor, but Sun Yat-sen, before the 1911 revolution, wanted to establish a republican alternative to the imperial reign cycles and introduced a counting system based on the first year of the the emperor's reign. Sun Yat-sen identified 2698 BCE as the first year of the first cycle, and this choice was adopted by many overseas Chinese communities outside southeast Asia. The traditional date of 2637 BCE for the beginning of the calendar would put us (in Gregorian year 2000) in the 78th 60-year cycle but most interpretations say that we are in the 79th cycle. Since it is a lunar calendar, an extra month has to be added to about every fourth (leap) year to keep the solstices and equinoxes within their correct seasons. The winter solstice occurs in month 11 and Chinese New Year is the second New Moon after the winter solstice. A “day” in the Chinese calendar begins at 11 p.m. and not at midnight.

Enter the year you wish to find the date for the first day of the Chinese New Year:


More History.
In 1645 the Ching Dynasty imported modern astronomical instruments so their astronomers could observe the exact positions of the moon and sun and improve the accuracy of the calendar.

In, 1912, the general public adopted the Gregorian calendar. Of course, to most Chinese people a year date such as "4703" is meaningless, since the calendar counts years in un-numbered cycles of 60. When the Republic of China was declared on 10th October 1928, the government decreed that from 1st January 1929, everyone must use the Gregorian calendar. Also, all of China must use the coastal time zone that had been used by all European treaty ports along the Chinese coast since 1904. This changed the beginning of each day for the traditional and Gregorian calendars, by +14 minutes 26 seconds from Beijing midnight to midnight at the longitude 120° east of Greenwich. Despite this edict the Chinese traditional calendar is still used for festivals and astrology.

Calendar information from many different sources, in particular, Helmer Aslaksen and
the book, ‘Calendrical Calculations’ by Nachum Dershowitz and Edward M. Reingold.
Third edition, 2008, Cambridge University Press.
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