Chinese Zodiac




(The 12 Animals Representing Years)





The mouse, or rat, is the first in the cycle of 12 animals representing years. The others are chronologically, the buffalo or ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. So how come animals designate years? Why 12, no more, no less? And why these specific animals?

There are different explanations about their origin. A popular legend says, long ago, a certain god ordered all the animals to pay him a visit on New Year' s Day, that is the first day of the first lunar month. He said he would give the first 12 animals to come the title "King of the Animal World" and let each hold the title for one year. The New Year visit-to-the-god story explains how the unpleasant mouse managed to become the first of the 12. As the story goes, when the Ox heard of the God' s decree, he said to himself: "It’s a long journey to visit that God. I’m not a fast traveller so I'd better start early." So he set out on the eve of the Lunar New Year. The Mouse heard the Ox and jumped onto his back, without being noticed. The Ox, sweating all over, was so glad to be the first to arrive at the God's place. But just as he was about to express his New Year greetings to the God, the Mouse jumped down over the Ox's head and became the first to kowtow to the God. So he was appointed the first King of the Animals and consequently, the first of the 12 animals to designate years. Now you may be wondering why there is no Year of the Cat, especially since cats have been popular as pets for thousands of years in china as well as in many other countries. Well, in the legend, the Cat failed to be chosen because he was a day late getting to God's place. The Mouse had played a trick on him. He lied to the Cat, telling him the wrong date for the competition. The Cat was not pleased and has hated the Mouse ever since.

A more convincing theory maintains that using animals to symbolize years began from totems of minority peoples in ancient times. Different tribes had different animals as their totems. Gradually, these animals were used as a means to remember the years. Alongside the increasing exchanges between the hinterland and the border regions, the custom of using animals to designate years made its way to the hinterland and was adopted by the Han people, the largest national group in China. At that time, the Hans were using the 10 Heavenly Stems and the 12 Earthly Branches to designate years. They took one from each series to make a pair for one year and developed a system based on a 60-year cycle. Every 60 years it is back to square one and the cycle begins again. When the method of using animals to represent years was introduced into the hinterland, the ancient Chinese married them to the 12 Earthly Branches, one to each; so 12 animals were used. Animals officially began to be used to designate years during the Later Han of the Five Dynasties Period a little more than 1, 000 years ago.

The Earthly Branches are divided into two categories: Yin and Yang. Each of them is paired with an animal of the same "gender". The gender of the animal is determined by the number of a specific part of its body. Odd numbers are Yang and even numbers are Yin. The tiger, the dragon, the monkey and the dog all have five toes on each foot or paw, and the horse has one hoof. So we know they are Yang animals. The cloven-hoofed species such as the ox, the goat and the pig fall into the Yin category because their hoofs are divided into two parts. The rooster is also Yin since it has four toes on each foot. The rabbit has two upper lips and the snake has a two-point forked tongue. So they are Yin, too. The mouse could had been a problem as it has four toes on each fore leg and five on each hind leg. It has both Yin and Yang qualities and there seemed to be no place to put it. Fortunately, the first of the earthly Branches, Zi, can be considered both Yin and Yang. The Branches were also used to designate days and hours, and when symbolizing the hours, this branch covers a period from eleven in the evening to one o' clock in the morning. PM is Yin and Am is Yang. So the mouse goes together with this first branch. It is this double-gender feature, a kind of split personality, you might say, that makes the little mouse the leader among his colleagues.

Your Chinese Horoscope:

Born in 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Born in 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Born in 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Born in 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
You are imaginative, charming, and truly generous to the person you love. However, you have a tendency to be quick-tempered and overly critical. You are also inclined to be somewhat of an opportunist. Born under this sign, you should be happy in sales or as a writer, critic, or publicist.
A born leader, you inspire confidence from all around you. You are conservative, methodical, and good with your hands. Guard against being chauvinistic and always demanding your own way. The Buffalo would be successful as a skilled surgeon, general, or hairdresser.
You are sensitive, emotional, and capable of great love. However, you have a tendency to get carried away and be stubborn about what you think is right; often seen as a "Hothead" or rebel. Your sign shows you would be excellent as a boss, explorer, race car driver or matador.
You are the kind of person that people like to be around, affectionate, obliging, and always pleasant. You have a tendency, though, to get too sentimental and seem superficial. Being cautious and conservative, you are successful in business but would also make a good lawyer, diplomat, or actor.
Dragon Snake Horse Goat
Born in 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Born in 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
Born in 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Born in 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Full of vitality and enthusiasm, the Dragon is a popular individual even with the reputation of being foolhardy and a 'big mouth' at times. You are intelligent, gifted, and a perfectionist but these qualities make you unduly demanding on others. You would be well-suited to be an artist, priest, or politician.
Rich in wisdom and charm, you are romantic and deep thinking and your intuition guides you strongly. Avoid procrastination and your stingy attitude towards money. Keep your sense of humour about life. The Snake would be most content as a teacher, philosopher, writer, psychiatrist, or fortune-teller.
Your capacity for hard work is amazing. You are your own person - very independent. While intelligent and friendly, you have a strong streak of selfishness and sharp cunning and should guard against being egotistical. Your sign suggests success as an adventurer, scientist, poet, or politician.
Except for the knack of always getting off on the wrong foot with people, the Goat can be charming company. You are elegant and artistic but the first to complain about things. Put aside your pessimism and worry, and try to be less dependent on material comforts. You would be best as an actor, gardener, or beachcomber.
Monkey Rooster Dog Pig
Born in 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
Born in 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
Born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
Born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019
You are very intelligent and a very clever wit. Because of your extraordinary nature and magnetic personality, you are always well-liked. The Monkey, however, must guard against being an opportunist and distrustful of other people. Your sign promises success in any field you try.
The Rooster is a hard worker; shrewd and definite in decision making; often speaking his mind. Because of this, you tend to seem boastful to others. You are a dreamer, flashy dresser, and extravagent to an extreme. Born under this sign you would be happy as a restaurant owner, publicist, soldier or world-traveller.
The Dog will never let you down. Born under this sign you are honest, and faithful to those you love. You are, however, plagued by constant worry, a sharp tongue, and a tendency to be a fault-finder. You would make an excellent businessman, activist, teacher or secret-agent.
You are a splendid companion, an intellectual with a very strong need to set difficult goals and carry them out. You are sincere, tolerant, and honest but by expecting the same from others, you are incredibly naive. Your quest for material goods could be your downfall. The Pig would be best in the arts as an entertainer, or possibly a lawyer.