Surely you are familiar with your Zodiac sign in Western astrology better. If you are born at the beginning of April, you are an Aries, and if in the beginning of December, then you are a Sagittarius. But apart from the Western, there is another astrological system that many countries in the world use. It is the Chinese Zodiac. This system is built around 12-year cycles, with every year corresponding to one of the Chinese Zodiac animals. Let us tell you more about these signs and the history behind them.
History of the Chinese Zodiac
Chinese Zodiac is an old system dating back to the early 5th century B.C. Back then, Chinese astrologers relied on people’s dates of birth, but also analyzed the position of planets and stars in the night sky. To this day, in China, they do not rely on Western astrological signs to make predictions. Instead, they rely on the Chinese lunar calendar, in which Zodiac signs change every year. Chinese New Year is different from the Western holiday because it is celebrated based on the cycles of the moon.
Chinese Zodiac animals correspond to each year of the 12-year cycle in the lunar calendar. Number 12 is not coincidental here. In fact, it is considered to be given under the will of Heaven, because within a year there are 12 full moons. As a result, the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs and 12 Earthly Branches appeared. Like other systems, Chinese Zodiac was originally created for counting years. The animals were decided upon during the Han Dynasty rule, and every animal’s name corresponds to an Earthly Branch symbol:
Zi Rat, Chou Ox, Yin Tiger, Mao Rabbit, Chen Dragon, Si Snake, Wu Horse, Wei Goat, Shen Monkey, You Rooster, Xu Dog, and Hai Pig.
The legend behind Chinese Zodiac signs
There is a very curious legend behind the ranking of Chinese Zodiac animals. It goes like this. Once upon a time, the Jade Emperor in Heaven decided to choose 12 animals to guard his palace. To decide on the order of importance, the animals had to race to the Heavenly Gate. The following day, the competition began.
The rat was the first one to wake up that day and ran to the Gate, on his way encountering Ox. Ox ended up carrying Rat to the palace, and right at the entrance Rat raced him to become the first, leaving the second rank to Ox. After Rat and Ox came Tiger and Rabbit. While for the first two it was their early rising that made them win, for Tiger and Rabbit it was their fast speed.
Fifth came Dragon. He was liked by the Jade Emperor of the palace who said that he can make the sixth guard his son. But when Snake heard this, he pretended to be the son of Dragon, earning him the sixth place. They were followed by polite and respectful Horse and Goat, then Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. These 12 guards of the Jade Emperor’s palace have become Chinese Zodiac animals.
What is your Chinese Zodiac sign?
Do you want to find out your sign in Chinese Zodiac? Simply find your birth year in this list.
- Years of Rat: 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
- Years of Ox: 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
- Years of Tiger: 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
- Years of Rabbit: 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
- Years of Dragon: 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
- Years of Snake: 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
- Years of Horse: 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
- Years of Goat: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
- Years of Monkey: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
- Years of Rooster: 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
- Years of Dog: 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
- Years of Pig: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019
Since Chinese Zodiac signs repeat every 12 years, your animal year will happen when you are 12, 24, 36, 48, and so on. When your Zodiac year comes around, it is called Ben Ming Nian, or your Zodiac year of birth. According to Chinese superstitions, during your Ben Ming Nian, you will experience bad luck because the God of Age will feel offended.
Designating each animal to one year during a 12-year cycle is not all. Astrologers also grouped Chinese Zodiac animals into four sections called trines. In each trine, there are three animal signs, all sharing common characteristics. Because the signs in a trine tend to get along well, Chinese astrologers often use them to make romantic love predictions.
This is a group of competitive and active animals. People born under these signs form a great team, the Rat being intelligent, the Monkey brave, and the Dragon courageous.
This is a group of thinkers. These Chinese Zodiac animals are persistent and determined. The Ox has good stamina, the Snake is a diplomat, and the Rooster boasts self-confidence and leadership skills.
In this trine, there are free-spirited and freedom-loving animals. The Tiger is passionate, the Horse is independent, and the Dog is loyal and honest complementing the other animals’ traits.
This trine consists of friendly and open-minded animals. The Rabbit is cunning, the Goat is humble, and the Pig is honorable and generous.
Chinese Zodiac animals in hours
Apart from years, Chinese Zodiac animals also have their own place in the months of the year, days of the week, and even hours of the day. That is because Chinese astrologers believe that the hour when the person was born determines his or her personality the most, even more than the birth year. This is something that is more common in the history of Chinese Zodiac signs rather than popular practice.
In ancient China, people divided the day into two-hour periods to tell the time. Every period was designated an animal to represent it, depending on the way animals behave and when people see them most active. For example, Rat took the hours between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., with other signs following.
As you can see, Chinese Zodiac animals play an important role in the cultures around the world. Knowing both your sign in the Western Zodiac and in Chinese astrology can help you understand more about the influences of the planet on your personality based on your date, year, and even time of birth.