Timekeeping and the Imperial Calendar

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One of the gifts bestowed upon the people of Jaoshen by Phoenix Emperor Shen-Lun the Enlightened was a unified calendar, ordered around the seasons and sun, which replaced several disparate methods of pre-Imperial timekeeping. The solstices and equinoxes divide the year into four seasons, each of which is further divided into three months of 30 days each. The day of each solstice or equinox is considered to occur between the last month of one season and the first of the next, and is a part of neither month (though it marks the beginning of the season). One extra day is added to each year, between two months of the same season, chosen according to the calculations of the Imperial Astronomers in Jaoling; this is the Celestial Court's Day and brings the total number of days in a year to 365. Finally, one extra day, the Impenitent Supplicant's Day, is added to the calendar every four years, also between two months chosen based on the calculation of the Imperial Astronomers. Each season is associated with one of the four classical elements, and the months within that season are referred to primarily by their position in the cycle of that element – ascending, resplendent, and descending. Months may also be named according to the constellation associated with that month in the Jaoshen zodiac; each equinox and solstice is considered to belong to the same zodiac sign as its succeeding month.

Day/Season Elemental Constellation/Sign Notes
Vernal Equinox Season of Earth The Goat First day of the calendar year
Spring, 1st month Ascending Earth
Spring, 2nd month Resplendent Earth The Ox
Spring, 3rd month Descending Earth The Gate
Summer Solstice Season of Fire The Carp This constellation is also known as the Two Carp
Summer, 1st month Ascending Fire
Summer, 2nd month Resplendent Fire The Tiger
Summer, 3rd month Descending Fire The Horse
Autumnal Equinox Season of Air The Phoenix
Autumn, 1st month Ascending Air
Autumn, 2nd month Resplendent Air The Dragon
Autumn, 3rd month Descending Air The Magician
Winter Solstice Season of Water The Lantern Bearer
Winter, 1st month Ascending Water
Winter, 2nd month Resplendent Water The Army
Winter, 3rd month Descending Water The Sandals

While lunar months of 28 days are tracked alongside the progression of the Imperial Calendar, little significance is attached to them outside of certain obscure mystical traditions. The Empire also measures time in 7-day weeks, but these are not tracked according to any unified schedule, and individual days of the week are not named. Years are numbered as Imperial Years from the founding of the Empire in IY 1; the actual date of the Empire's founding is not the start of the Imperial Year, as the first Phoenix Emperor felt it was more important for the new calendar to reflect the orderly progression of the heavens than to stand as a monument to his own achievements and ego.

The reign of each Phoenix Emperor or Empress is considered a separate era within the Imperial Calendar, named according to omens and portents observed prior to that Emperor's coronation, although the eras are also recorded in a numeric shorthand. For example, the reign of the seventh Phoenix Emperor might be called the Era of Bountiful Harvests, but its numeric shorthand will be simply 7E. Years of any given era or reign are measured according to the Imperial Calendar, IY 1 also being 1E 1; thus, the last year of any given era is also the first year of the next. While the Regency is officially the Era of Anticipation, it is not numbered as are other eras; instead, the shorthand RY is used.

Following the Restoration, the reign of Phoenix Empress Su-Minh is called the Era of Restored Glory. The current year is IY 739 or 20E 3. The campaign begins on the 24th day of Descending Fire, one week before the Autumnal Equinox. In IY 739, the Celestial Court's Day fell between Resplendent and Descending Fire; in IY 740 it will fall between Resplendent and Descending Water. IY 740 will also be a leap year, with the Impenitent Supplicant's Day falling between Ascending and Resplendent Air.