The Chinese animal zodiac, or shengxiao (/shnng-sshyaoww/ ‘born resembling’), is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal and its reputed attributes. Traditionally these zodiac animals were used to date the years.

The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

In order, the 12 animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.


Chinese Zodiac Calculator — Find Your Animal Sign

Your Chinese Zodiac sign is derived from your birth year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. See the years of each animal below or use the calculator on the right to determine your own sign.

Those born in January and February take care: Chinese (Lunar) New Year moves between 21 January and February 20. If you were born in January or February, check whether your birth date falls before or after Chinese New Year to know what your Chinese zodiac year is.

  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
  • Rabbite: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
  • Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970
  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971


Chinese Zodiac Origins — Why 12 Animals?

The 12 animals were chosen deliberately, after many revisions. The zodiac animals are either closely related to ancient Chinese people’s daily lives, or have lucky meanings.

The ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, and dog are six of the main domestic animals raised by Chinese people. The other six animals: rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, and monkey are all loved by the Chinese people.

Why in That Order?

The 12 Chinese Zodiac animals are in a fixed order according to Chinese Yin and Yang Theory and perceived attributes.

The yin or the yang of the animals is defined based on the odd or even number of their claws (or toes, hoofs). The animals are then arranged in an alternating (complementary) yin-yang sequence.

Usually an animal has is the same number of claws on its front and rear legs. However the rat has four toes on its fore legs and five on its hind legs. As the old saying goes, “a thing is valued in proportion to its rarity”, so the Rat ranks first of the 12 zodiac animals. It uniquely combines the attributes of odd (yang) and even (yin). 4+5=9, and yang is dominant, so the Rat is classified as odd (yang) overall.

Yin and Yang of Chinese zodiac animals
Zodiac Animal Toes Per Limb Odd/Even Yin/Yang
Rat4 front; 5 back(even and) odd(yin and) yang

Each animal has symbolic meanings given to it by the ancient Chinese. These animal attributes comes in six contrasting pairs that must be harmonized, like yin and yang, and are the primary factor governing the order of the zodiac. (Presumably the attributes most valued by ancient Chinese are first and so on.) The strong yang attribute comes first, then the balancing yin attribute.

Zodiac Animal Attribute Saying
RatWisdomWisdom without industriousness leads to triviality.
OxIndustriousnessIndustriousness without wisdom leads to futility.
TigerValorValor without caution leads to recklessness.
RabbitCautionCaution without valor leads to cowardice.
DragonStrengthStrength without flexibility leads to fracture.
SnakeFlexibilityFlexibility without strength leads to compromise.
HorseForging aheadForging ahead without unity leads to abandonment.
GoatUnityUnity without forging ahead leads to stagnation.
MonkeyChangabilityChangability without being constant leads to foolishness.
RoosterBeing constantBeing constant without changability leads to woodeness.
DogFidelityFidelity without amiability leads to rejection.

Chinese Zodiac Hours

It is widely known that each year is associated with a Chinese zodiac animal, but in Chinese culture the 12 zodiac animals are also associated with hours of a day.

In ancient times, in order to tell the time, people divided a day into twelve 2-hour periods, and designated an animal to represent each period, according to each animal’s “special time”.

According to Chinese astrology, though not popularly used, a person’s personality and life is more decided by his/her birth hour than year. The zodiac hour is widely used for character and destiny analysis.

Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Goat Monkey Rooster Dog Pig

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