The Chinese Zodiac

We all know our western Astrological sun signs, whether we believe in Astrology or not, but do you know the animal of the Chinese zodiac that governs the year of your birth? Here, you can find out which animal that is, and also its associated character traits.

Western and Indian astrological practices are based on the movement of the Sun, Moon and planets through the houses of the zodiac. Chinese astrology differs in that it is concerned solely with the ancient agricultural calendar which is based on lunar cycles.

In Western astrology, when we say “What sign are you?” or answer “I’m an Aquarian” what we are referring to is our Sun sign ie; the part of the zodiac where the sun was when we were born. We are much more than this as our Moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury etc etc signs also make up our astrological birthchart. The same way in Chinese astrology, when we say “What sign are you?” or answer “I’m a Rabbit” we are referring to the animal which rules the year we are born. But each year itself is divided into twelve periods, each governed by an animal as is each day.

Below I will only be looking at the animal years. One final and important aspect we must be aware of is that even though I have stated below the years that roughly correspond to each sign, the Chinese year does not begin on 1st January and end on 31st December. It is based instead on a lunar cycle and so occurs in January or February each year. If your birthday falls in these months, you will need to check to see when the Chinese New Year occurred in the year of your birth. For example, I was born in 1976, so I should be a Dragon, however the Chinese New Year that year took place on 31st January, and I was born just before that, so I am actually born in the year of the Rabbit.

If your birthday falls in January or February or you are unsure of which animal year you were born, take a moment and check  here. You just need to enter your date of birth and it will not only tell you what you sign is, but what you can expect from 2012, the Year of the Dragon.



1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Although western societies consider rats to be dirty vermin to be exterminated, they are seen quite differently in most Asian cultures. Of course this is in the context of the magnificent Rat as the first animal of the Chinese zodiac. People born in the year of the Rat are extremely intelligent and this can be seen in how the Rat won the race, riding on the Ox to become the first animal of the zodiac. This intelligence combined with a reliance on instincts and an ability to adapt and survive in just about any environment are what Rat use to ensure success.

Rats are also extremely creative and well-liked in social circles due to their fabulous charm and quick witted manner. However, they can sometimes be too judgemental and critical of others. He loves the finer things in life, but it must be said that the Rat is never one to waste money and is, in fact, very thrifty and always on the look out for a bargain.

They must, however, be careful that their natural diligence with money does not turn into miserliness. They also have a tendency to think too much and create a trap in which they themselves get caught by their own logic.


1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

This animal is regarded as very strong, hard working, methodical and also at times stubborn. People who are born in the year of the Ox share these traits with their animal counterpart. What this means is that they can be depended upon to achieve what they set out to. They will set a goal, but before taking any action, carefully consider each step needed to reach that end, and they will then work diligently and methodically until the desired objective is achieved.

Generally people born in the year of the Ox make great and loyal friends. They are honest, ethical people with a strong desire to do the right thing. This means that they have little of their legendary patience for those who are more willing to take shortcuts.

These gentle hard working people may at times feel their life itself extremely hard work, with uncertain or little reward, but then they remind themselves that as long as they keep going, they will be rewarded, no matter what anyone else says. But Ox may do well to remember that it may benefit them at times to put more effort into seeking social connections, something they don’t usually feel compelled to do. This will counter feelings of frustration. Although an Ox appears peaceful, on the rare occasion that they do lose their tempers, you do not want to be in the line of fire.

Like the Bull of the Western zodiac, Taurus, stubbornness is an Ox’s most negative trait and they can go to great lengths to prove they are right.


1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

The tiger, the big cat of the jungle, is a powerful and daring loner, just like people born in the year of its sign. They are non-conformists and do not play well with others as they like to lead and if they cannot assume the position of leader, they would much rather be alone. They also share the characteristics of stealth and speed, especially when it comes to overcoming obstacles that stand in their path.

A person born in this year will always stand out in crowd but don’t be fooled by the hard front they have perfected, because they surprisingly sensitive and emotional. They are the perfect friend if you like directness and honesty but their loner attitude and pride prevents them from asking for help when it is needed. They can be extremely romantic and can surprise their lover with everything from poetry to unexpected gifts. They must take care though, not to dominate the relationship.

Their most negative trait is a tendency to be recklessly impulsive at times. Combine this with a quick temper, and no one is safe if a Tiger is on the rampage. Much of this can be avoided if Tigers just learn to stop and think before they act.


1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

An old Chinese proverb says that “A swift hare has three holes dug”. This means that if a rabbit senses a threat, he has already prepared a means of escape. This would also be a perfect description for the gentle folk born in the year of the Rabbit. They are always aware of their surroundings and can sense danger or conflict a mile off and will make every effort to avoid a confrontation, preferring negotiation and discussion. However they will fight courageously and fiercely when that is the only option left for them. They are team players who will always work for the good of the whole rather than seeking personal glory.

People born in the year of the Rabbit are loved by all and welcomed in any social circle due in most part to their calm temperament, amiability and sensitivity. They make great hosts too and enjoy throwing dinner parties for their friends. In love, these gentle beings are warm, affectionate and very romantic. Rabbits are also creative and have a special interest in music. Rabbits desire peace and security. They will also love beauty and can often turn this into a successful career in the arts.

The most negative character trait associated with people born in the Year of the Rabbit is that they can be prone to sudden mood changes, which others can find rather disconcerting. Most of this comes from indecisiveness and a natural secretive manner which always arises from Rabbit’s desire to avoid outright confrontation in the pursuit of a peaceful life.


1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Dragon is the only mythological creature amongst the twelve signs of the zodiac. In Chinese history, dragons were the most sacred and revered mystical animal and were a symbol of the power and majesty of the Emperor. This was because dragons were seen as immensely powerful, with the ability to expel fire to destroy and enemies and also possessing boundless energy and a zealous nature; all qualities desirable to Emperors. People born in the year of the Dragon also possess these qualities. They may be helpful and considerate in friendship, but make for a dangerous enemy. Most Dragons have this innate belief that they are born for greatness, and they do seem to possess the traits to achieve this.

Dragons are extremely independent and desire an environment that allows them the freedom to express their creativity. Dragons cannot abide pretentious traits in others as they themselves are very direct. They are ruled by their emotions and this makes them much desired as lovers, as they bring an intense sexuality to their relationships. In fact life can seem very intense for Dragons at times as nothing is just a casual encounter.

Dragons will most likely not consider the minor details in any situation as they have that majestic attitude of leaving it for someone else to take care of ‘the small stuff’. Their most negative trait would be that all their boundless energy and enthusiasm can mean they act recklessly taking extraordinary risks. Dragons have a tendency to think and act impulsively at times which can lead to the occasional social faux pas.


1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

The image of a snake may instill fear in the hearts of most of us, but Asian cultures respect and even honour the snake. They are seen as wise, self-reliant and tenacious, and much like the Dragon, are supposed to possess power, energy and boundless self-confidence and energy. Those born in the year of the Snake also possess all this and more. Although similar to the Dragon, they are more subtle; Dragons use intense and dramatic actions to achieve their goals, yet Snakes do so through careful planning and calculating. Not afraid to take risks, the Snake also has the wisdom to support these risks.

People born in the year of the Snake can have a deviousness to them and make for a formidable enemy. Yet, they will not openly show aggression, instead preferring to patiently wait, plotting, before striking their target in one precise, swift move. Their thoughts are not always consumed by plotting though and Snakes can be quite spiritual and philosophical. They also love the finer things in life. They have extremely fine tastes in fashion. Family is very important for Snakes, and these attractive people will usually marry.

The most negative trait of people born in the year of the Snake is that they can be immensely proud and stubbornly want things done their way, which in turn can lead to jealously and a tendency to be uncompromising.


1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

People born in the Year of the Horse can be likened to the unshackled, free roaming horses of the wild. They can go from being high-spirited and adventurous to temperamental and trying. These people are generally cheerful though and possess a childlike innocence and wonder that attracts many people, though they may just as easily be alienated when they encounter Horse’s frank, direct manner of speaking his mind.

Horses possess much energy and usually excel at sports as they are very good at competing and promoting themselves. But as successful as they be, they sometimes have a tendency to change their minds mid project, making others see them as irresponsible. This stems from the Horse’s rebellious nature which needs plenty of room for self-expression. They cannot be constrained by rules.

A negative trait of Horses is that as devoted and loving as they are in relationships, their competitiveness can lead to jealousy and then their directness can be particularly offensive.


1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

Is there anything sweeter than the image of lambs frolicking in a meadow? There is a fluffy goodness associated with sheep both big and small and this is why people born in the year of the Sheep are the archetype of love and consideration for others. They are gentle and always ready to listen sympathetically to others, even helping the less fortunate to find a solution to their problems. This can mean that sometimes Sheep can be the victims of exploitation by unscrupulous individuals. However Sheep will almost never ask others for help and are actually quite introverted, and will retreat into solitude to resolve their issues and problems. Much like Rabbits, Sheep need moments of peace and quiet.

Like their animal counterparts, people born in the year of the Sheep are very resilient and able to survive just about any environment. Although they are sociable and seen as gentle, charming and kind, they are not at all weak. Extreme provocation can make the Sheep fight. Also like the animal, human Sheep can only move forward. They do expect others to be as good and as kind as them so they can react quite strongly and badly to criticism. They make great romantic partners though as they are loving and easy going and will not fight their partners for power.

A negative trait is that Sheep have a tendency to spend more than they earn. They are more concerned with beauty and luxury and not in saving money.


1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

The best depiction of Monkey characteristics can be read in a classic Chinese novel called Monkey or The Monkey King. Some of you, especially if you’re from the UK or Australia, will remember the dubbed TV series of these books. The main character, The King of the Monkeys, is intelligent, funny, adaptable and can also be an unscrupulous trickster. People born in the Year of the Monkey in addition to these characteristics are very charming. They have few, if any inhibitions and express themselves fearlessly. They are natural leaders, and will often insist on taking the lead as they don’t appreciate being led by others. They are mentally alert, dextrous, and able to learn new skills almost effortlessly. They can do just about anything they set out to do.

Yet even with all these qualities, people born in the year of the Monkey are sensitive and love to help others. They are sweet, romantic and playful in relationships, but this can be difficult for some of their partners as the playfulness can seems as though they are not taking the relationship seriously. They also seem to have an extreme way of judging people and you will be rated on how useful you can be in helping Monkey’s advancement.

Monkeys get bored easily so need constant excitement and stimulation. This leads to a negative trait of them not always completing projects. They get bored and have a short attention span so can take shortcuts and when problems arise, it is usually others that are left to clean up the mess. Also, as Monkeys are quite devious, they are prepared to bend the truth when it is the only way for them to obtain what they want. In some Monkeys, this can reveal itself as fraud. For Monkey to achieve goals using all their positive characteristics, they need to work on patience and keep the big picture in sight.


1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

People born in the year of the Rooster are quick witted and have sound judgements. They are great organisers and don’t waste money or time. They know exactly what their positive attributes are and they want others to know it too, so will often strut about crowing about their own abilities, much like their feathered counterparts. In fact, they go out of their way to be noticed and do not like to be part of the crowd.

Most people will find Roosters rather odd in behaviour, and it is not always easy to tell if their eccentricity is genuine or just another way of attracting attention. You can usually spot Roosters by the way they dress as well as they love to make a statement with their style and can be considered arrogant or vain by others. Roosters make loyal partners, as they believe in monogamous relationships.

People born in the year of the Rooster have the negative traits of impatience and impulsiveness. They can make judgements far too quickly and have a tendency to tactlessly criticise others and tell them how they should live their lives. Anyone who does not share their work ethic, may be deemed lazy, or they may be aloof with those who do not dress as well as them. They must try to control their tendency to criticise loved ones as they can end up driving people away.


1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Dogs are known as ‘Man’s best friend’ due to their selfless loyalty and intelligence. People born in the year of the Dog also share these characteristics. They are honest and trustworthy friends and will make sacrifices for the people and ideas they believe in. At work, they are good followers rather than leaders as they need the guidance and support.

They are the most fair minded of all the twelve signs and can feel just as outraged at an injustice against another as they would be at one against themselves. He is a noble crusader and prefers to live a life of principles and dignity. As romantic partners, Dogs are extremely dedicated and faithful. When they find the right person, they are devoted for life, and as they aware of this trait in themselves, they will usually be quite selective in choosing the right person. They are very sensitive and compassionate.

As lovely, intelligent and loyal as these just people are, they do have a tendency to view the world in black or white. They do not understand that most people have mixed motives for their actions and that we all have good and bad within us. This judgemental nature causes them to see good or bad, never both and the same with friend or foe, right or wrong. Their emotional natures can also make them appear to be rude at times as they just can’t help the way they feel.


1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

People born in the year of the Pig are very much like their animal counterparts in that they don’t always get the respect or credit that they are due. These people may be judged on their manner which can at times appear to be cynical or rude, however they are soft-hearted, generous, intelligent individuals. They are loyal and trustworthy friends who are willing to share their last penny with their friends, but they also expect this in return and can sometimes trust those who are not trustworthy. They are peaceful and pleasure-seeking in nature and dislike arguments and confrontations.

People born in the year of the Pig pay great attention to their hygiene and appearance and like to dress well. They are creative and artistic and have great taste in the arts. They adore creature comforts and will share these with the people they love most. Pigs are anything but loners and will actively search for a partner with which to start a happy, harmonious family.

Pigs must guard against being too trusting and gullible as they can be a target for less scrupulous people. They are affected by the emotions of others so can fall for the sad stories they are told. They must also be aware of their tendency to over indulge in their pleasure seeking side. They may eat or drink too much or spend too much money on luxuries.