What is the Chinese lunar calendar?

The Chinese lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the Moon, and is constructed in a different fashion than the Western solar calendar. In the Chinese calendar, the beginning of the year falls somewhere between late January and early February, and contains 354 days.

Each year is given an animal designation, such as “Year of the Ox.” A total of 12 different animal names are used, and they rotate in the following sequence: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare (Rabbit), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep (Goat), Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. The Chinese have adopted the Western calendar since 1911, but the lunar calendar is still used for festive occasions such as the Chinese New Year. Many Chinese calendars print both the solar dates and the Chinese lunar dates.