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.
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.
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
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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
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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