Chinese Zodiac

Chinese zodiac, known as sheng xiao (生肖 shēng xiào), consists of the 12 animal signs designated to the 12 earthly branches in China. Regarded as Chinese horoscopes, the Chinese zodiac can be used for fortune-telling, offering putative guidance in life.

Chinese zodiac animals in order are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each of the animal signs is related to the lunar calendar, which means the year of an animal sign starts from Lunar New Year, based on a twelve-year cycle.

2021 is the Year of the Ox, beginning from 2021 Chinese New Year on February 12th and running to 2022 Chinese New Year's Eve on January 31st.

Chinese Zodiac Signs

Chinese zodiac signs have close ties with the way the Chinese people's daily and social lives are lived. It is believed that the destiny of people born in a certain year is affected by that year's animal. Each zodiac animal has certain characteristics. Click the following zodiac animals to know their personality, love compatibility, lucky things, and prediction for 2021.

Rat

Ox

Tiger

Rabbit

Dragon

Snake

Horse

Goat

Monkey

Rooster

Dog

Pig

What's Your Zodiac Sign?

Your Chinese zodiac sign depends on your birth year. Use the Chinese Zodiac Signs Calculator to find out your zodiac sign.

Zodiac Animal Chinese Name Recent Years
Rat 鼠 shǔ 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032
Ox 牛 niú 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033
Tiger 虎 hǔ 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022, 2034
Rabbit 兔 tù 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035
Dragon 龙 lóng 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, 2036
Snake 蛇 shé 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025, 2037
Horse 马 mǎ 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026, 2038
Goat 羊 yáng 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027, 2039
Monkey 猴 hóu 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028, 2040
Rooster 鸡 jī 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029, 2041
Dog 狗 gǒu 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042
Pig 猪 zhū 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2043

Chinese Zodiac Years

Chinese zodiac years are based on the Chinese lunar calendar, each zodiac animal's year comes around every 12 years. It traditionally begins with the Year of the Rat.

There are two dates that can be considered as the starting date for Chinese zodiac years: the Chinese New Year (the first of the first lunar month) - which usually falls on the period between January 21 and February 22 and the Beginning of Spring (the first of the 24 solar terms) - which usually falls on 3-5 February.

Most Chinese people think the Chinese New Year marks the transition from one animal to the next, but Chinese astrologers use the Beginning of Spring as the starting date of zodiac years.

Ben Ming Nian

Ben Ming Nian (本命年 běn mìng nián) is your birth sign year or zodiac year. If you are born in 1949, your Ben Ming Nian is the Ox year. You will encounter your birth sign year every 12 years. 2021 is the Year of the Ox, so it is your Ben Ming Nian!

You may expect to be lucky in your Ben Ming Nian as this is your year. However, the truth is quite opposite to what you had expected. According to Chinese astrology, people in their zodiac year are believed to offend Tai Sui (太岁tài suì) and will have bad luck during that year.

Don't worry, wearing red is the best way to protect yourself from evil spirits and get good luck during your zodiac year!

Chinese Zodiac Compatibility

Chinese zodiac compatibility is an important component in love and marriage for Chinese people in ancient times. It was believed that people born under different animal signs supposedly have different personalities and destinies. Those whose characteristics match well can get reasonable support from each other and be good partners. But if their characteristics did not match well, staying close might be harmful to each other.

Chinese Zodiac Compatibility
Animal Sign Best Match Better match Worse match Worst match
Rat Dragon, Monkey Ox Horse Goat
Ox Snake, Rooster Rat Goat Horse
Tiger Horse, Dog Pig Monkey Snake
Rabbit Goat, Pig Dog Rooster Dragon
Dragon Rat, Monkey Rooster Dog Rabbit
Snake Ox, Rooster Monkey Pig Tiger
Horse Tiger, Dog Goat Rat Ox
Goat Rabbit, Pig Horse Ox Rat
Monkey Rat, Dragon Snake Tiger Pig
Rooster Ox, Snake Dragon Rabbit Dog
Dog Tiger, Horse Rabbit Dragon Rooster
Pig Rabbit, Goat Tiger Snake Monkey

Chinese Zodiac Story

According to the legend, the Jude Emperor (ruler of heaven) would like to measure time by twelve different animals. He told animals that he would hold a great race on his birthday, the prize was twelve positions on the Chinese zodiac calendar.

The cat asked the rat to help it sign up, but the rat forgot its promise, so the cat wasn't included. Thereafter, the cat and rat were enemies.

The ox was originally first, but he was so kind that he agreed to carry the little rat across the river. Just as they were about to reach the other side of the river, the rat jumped off the ox's back and crossed the finish line first. So, the rat became the first of the zodiac animals, and the ox had been tricked into the second place.

Chinese Zodiac Race Chinese Zodiac Race

Read the complete story on the Chinese Zodiac Race.

Chinese Zodiac Order

The 12 animal signs of the Chinese zodiac are divided into 2 categories by Chinese philosophy - Yin and Yang Theory. Yin is receptive and feminine; while Yang is active and masculine. It's believed that odd numbers belong to yang and even numbers belong to yin.

The yin or the yang of the animal is defined based on the number of their toes. The 12 animals are arranged in an alternating yin-yang sequence.

The number of toes on most animals is generally the same on all feet. However, the rat has four toes on its forefoot and five on its rear foot. Odd numbers with even numbers of toes on the same animal are rather rare. Hence the rat ranks first. As four plus five equals nine which is an odd number, so rat belongs to yang.

In total, there are six animals with odd numbers of toes, placing them in the yang category; the other six creatures with even numbers of toes, belonging to yin.

Zodiac Animal Toes per Limb Odd/Even Yin/Yang
Rat 4 front, 5 back (even and) odd (yin and) yang
Ox 4 even yin
Tiger 5 odd yang
Rabbit 4 even yin
Dragon 5 odd yang
Snake 0 even yin
Horse 1 odd yang
Goat 4 even yin
Monkey 5 odd yang
Rooster 4 even yin
Dog 5 odd yang
Pig 4 even yin

Chinese Zodiac Hours

The Chinese zodiac is derived from Chinese philosophy - Yin and Yang Theory, Five Phases, and Twelve Earthly Branches. In ancient China, each day was divided into 12 shichen (时辰shí chén), each shichen was the equivalent of two hours today. People in ancient days named each shichen according to the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Animal Sign Hours Description
Rat Zi Shi 子时, 23:00–1:00 Rats are active during this time.
Ox Chou Shi 丑时, 1:00–3:00 Oxen are used to grazing at night.
Tiger Yin Shi 寅时, 3:00–5:00 Tigers hunt prey.
Rabbit Mao Shi 卯时, 5:00–7:00 Rabbits like to eat grass with the morning dew, as light emerges.
Dragon Chen Shi 辰时, 7:00–9:00 It's often foggy at this time, dragons would ride the clouds and mount the mists.
Snake Si Shi巳时, 9:00–11:00 Snakes go out for food.
Horse Wu Shi 午时, 11:00–13:00 Wild horses like to run and neigh at noon.
Goat Wei Shi 未时, 13:00–15:00 This is the best time for goats to eat grass.
Monkey Shen Shi 申时, 15:00–17:00 As sunset approaches, monkeys moan.
Rooster You Shi 酉时, 17:00–19:00 Roosters go back to their henhouses.
Dog Xu Shi 戌时, 19:00–21:00 Dogs are responsible for guarding the households at night.
Pig Hai Shi 亥时, 21:00–23:00 Lazy pigs do nothing but eat and sleep, day and night.

Introduction to the 12 Zodiac Animals

Listed below are all the 12 zodiac animals with detailed information, check out which animal sign you belong to and get lucky in the New Year!

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