Chinese Zodiac: A guide to finding your animal sign and its meaning

Chinese Zodiac: A guide to finding your animal sign and its meaning

The story goes that, centuries ago, the Jade Emperor was looking for a way in which his people could measure time.

So he decided to call an animal race that sought 12 winners to name each year after. The contestants were instructed to cross a river and reach the finishing line.

The cat and the rat both decided to hop on the back of the Ox to make up for their poor swimming skills. However, midway through the river, the Rat pushed the Cat into the water.

When the Ox reached the shore, the Rat was quick to hop off and run to the Jade Emperor. So, the very first year of the 12-year cycle was named after it.

The legend then explains the order in which each of the 12 animals won the race and what their journey involved.

This year’s Chinese New Year, which falls on Sunday, January 22, will mark the start of the year of the Rabbit or, more specifically, Water Rabbit.

If you’re wanting to find out what the differences between the Chinese and Western zodiacs are, what your Chinese Zodiac sign is, and what you can expect from the Year of the Rabbit, keep reading.

What are the differences between the Chinese zodiac and Western zodiac?

The Western zodiac cycle that most are accustomed to in the UK is associated with constellations and follows a 12-month cycle.

It assigns a sun, moon, rising sign, and a number of other signs to each person according to the exact date, time, and location they were born, using astronomical placements.

The Chinese zodiac cycle, however, lasts 12 years and uses the orbital plane of the Earth around the Sun to set signs apart.

There is also a cycle of natural elements that changes every two years, that consists of earth, metal, water, wood, and fire.

Because there are 12 signs and five elements, it takes 60 years for the same animal sign and element combination to occur.

The Fortune Cat is believed to attract good luck and is often a staple part of Chinese New Year decorations (Pexels)
The Fortune Cat is believed to attract good luck and is often a staple part of Chinese New Year decorations (Pexels)

How do I find out what my Chinese Zodiac sign is and what it means?

You can easily figure out your Chinese Zodiac sign through the year you were born in.

Here is a comprehensive list outlining each zodiac’s years and characteristics.

Rabbit (born in 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023)

Strengths: Artistic, sensitive, friendly, and social

Weaknesses: Tends to avoid conflict and run away from confrontation

Dragon (born in 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)

Strengths: Leadership, impactful, independent

Weaknesses: Can struggle to give up their freedom and settle down in a relationship, might be too self-centred or authoritative

London celebrates Chinese New Year

Enter the dragon: the fiery beast is paraded through Trafalgar Square to herald the year of the Monkey. <br></br>© PA:
Enter the dragon: the fiery beast is paraded through Trafalgar Square to herald the year of the Monkey.

© PA:
Ahh: girls in costume hold burning incense as they watch the celebrations. <br></br>© Reuters:
Ahh: girls in costume hold burning incense as they watch the celebrations.

© Reuters:
Beam me up: Ken Livingstone makes a speech under a lantern in Trafalgar Square. <br></br>© PA:
Beam me up: Ken Livingstone makes a speech under a lantern in Trafalgar Square.

© PA:
Dancing around: the dragon works its way around the square. <br></br>© PA:
Dancing around: the dragon works its way around the square.

© PA:
Happy bunch: a girl watches the celebrations. <br></br>© PA:
Happy bunch: a girl watches the celebrations.

© PA:
Glorious day: blue skies and sunshine for the parade. <br></br>© PA:
Glorious day: blue skies and sunshine for the parade.

© PA:

Snake (born in 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)

Strengths: Mysterious, determined, careful, sensitive, intuitive

Weaknesses: Insecurity and jealousy

Horse (born in 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014)

Strengths: Adventurous, cheerful, open, charming, care-free

Weaknesses: Opinionated, can be difficult to manage

Goat (born in 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015)

Strengths: Kind, empathetic, creative, mild-mannered, calm

Weaknesses: Doesn’t like to be told what to do, struggles to compromise, can be highly strung

Monkey (born in 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016)

Strengths: Clever, problem-solver, inventor, trustworthy, playful, and romantic

Weaknesses: Struggles to commit, doesn’t always fit into groups, can lack self-control

Rooster (born in 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017)

Strengths: Perfectionist, proud, likes to stand out, flexible, great at saving money

Weaknesses: Easily frustrated when things don’t go as planned, doesn’t like blending in

Dog (born in 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018)

Strengths: Loyal, honest, trustworthy, social, committed, spontaneous

Weaknesses: Can struggle with mood swings and over-sensitivity

Pig (born in 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019)

Strengths: Peaceful, kind, honest, optimistic, fun-loving, generous

Weaknesses: Can’t hide their emotions even if it will cause an argument

Chinese New Year

1springR_350x250.jpg:
1springR_350x250.jpg:
Lighting the way: A Chinese cyclist carries a traditional lantern on his way to decorate his home in Xian, central China<br></br>Picture: Reuters:
Lighting the way: A Chinese cyclist carries a traditional lantern on his way to decorate his home in Xian, central China

Picture: Reuters:
Monkey business: A Chinese boy wears a monkey mask as he stands underneath trees decorated with lanterns at the Temple of the Earth in Beijing on the eve of Chinese New Year, January 21, 2004<br></br>Picture: Reuters:
Monkey business: A Chinese boy wears a monkey mask as he stands underneath trees decorated with lanterns at the Temple of the Earth in Beijing on the eve of Chinese New Year, January 21, 2004

Picture: Reuters:
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4tigerR_350x350.jpg:
Marking the New Year: Chinese students pass a traditional gateway decorated with lanterns to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year in Beijing. <br></br>Picture: Reuters:
Marking the New Year: Chinese students pass a traditional gateway decorated with lanterns to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year in Beijing.

Picture: Reuters:
The Year of the Monkey: Edinburgh zoo celebrated the Chinese New Year of the Monkey by unveiling its newest baby monkey, a Titi monkey from South America. <br></br>Picture: PA:
The Year of the Monkey: Edinburgh zoo celebrated the Chinese New Year of the Monkey by unveiling its newest baby monkey, a Titi monkey from South America.

Picture: PA:
Helping hand: Dr Qiang Zhao from the University of Surrey reveals a scientific formula he has created with Dr Jim AL-Khalili for Uncle Ben's, to help people master chopsticks for Chinese New Year. <br></br>Picture: PA:
Helping hand: Dr Qiang Zhao from the University of Surrey reveals a scientific formula he has created with Dr Jim AL-Khalili for Uncle Ben's, to help people master chopsticks for Chinese New Year.

Picture: PA:
Making a splash: Indonesian divers perform an underwater lion dance at Jakarta's Sea World<br></br>© Reuters:
Making a splash: Indonesian divers perform an underwater lion dance at Jakarta's Sea World

© Reuters:

Rat (born in 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020)

Strengths: Family-focused, clever, funny, creative, and observant

Weaknesses: Can be frugal or greedy with money

Ox (born in 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021)

Strengths: Honest, persistent, believes in the value of hard work

Weaknesses: Can have insecurities and be stubborn

Tiger (born in 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2022)

Strengths: Proactive, spontaneous, romantic, extroverted

Weaknesses: Can have a huge ego, be very impulsive, and likes to be right