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In the Chinese textbook I study, in the section teaching calendar and dates, there are tables showing different dates. The following words are written vertically:

九月小,

十月大,

十二月大,

I couldn't figure it out, what are the words 大 and 小 for? What could they mean in a date expression?

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It is from a 口訣 to remember 大小月

大月 have 31 days, 小月 have 30 days or less (Feb)

The 口訣 (mnemonic) is as follow:

一月大

二月小

三月大

四月小

五月大

六月小

七月大

八月大

九月小

十月大

十一月小

十二月大

As you can see:

大月 (big month/ 31-days month) (Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Aug, Oct, Dec) have 31 days

小月 (small month/ 30-days month) (Feb, Apr, Jun, Sep, Nov) have 30 days except for Feb which has less (28-29)

Basically, Just start a year with a 大月 and remember Jul and Aug are two consecutive big months and you wouldn't forget what month have 31 days

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    Another method is to use the knuckles of the hand. Starting with the first Index knuckle, (left or right hand), representing January is "high", so, "big", meaning 31 days to be followed by the "depression", so "low" or "small", meaning 28 / 29 days of February; and so on, continuing on to the other hand. Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 12:29
  • That is the method I learned as a child in the US. Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 20:20
  • Just want to add that 大小月 is original used in traditional Chinese calendar where a month is either 30 days or 29 days, since the moon's cycle is not an integer. Later when the Gregorian calendar was introduced, this term got its new usage for 30 vs 31 days in the Gregorian calendar. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 15:38

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