Chinese Zodiac

Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese zodiac is a culture that relates a person’s date of birth during the Chinese Lunar Year. It is popular in China and other countries in East Asia. After the first Opium War (1840-1842), more and more Westerners traveled to China, and more and more Chinese traveled to the Western world and so the Chinese zodiac came to the western world during this exchange of travel.

Nowadays, a large number of Westerners are learning Chinese. Reading stories about the Chinese zodiac is an interesting and efficient way to learn the Chinese language, so the Chinese zodiac is widely accepted by Westerners very quickly.

The Chinese zodiac is talked mostly around the 30 days before a Chinese Lunar New Year. People talk about what they should to do to become lucky in the upcoming new Lunar year. Shopkeepers decorate their counters or windows with pictures of the animal that symbolizes the new Lunar year. When people talk and do something related to the Chinese zodiac, they are always relaxed and happy. That might be the reason why the Chinese zodiac has become so popular in the Western world. Everyone wants to be happy!

Origins of the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese zodiac originated even before the Qin Dynasty (221 BC – 207 BC), the first feudal dynasty in China. In 1975, a bamboo slip written in the Qin Dynasty was unearthed in Hubei. The article about the Chinese zodiac on the bamboo slip proved that the Chinese zodiac has officially existed since the Qin Dynasty. However although the article is very interesting, you could say it is nonsense to people nowadays. It paired 12 symbolic animals of Chinese zodiac with 12 periods of earthly branches, predicting a thief’s criminal destiny via the Chinese zodiac and earthly branches. For example, a thief, who had stolen things in Zi Period (a period of earthly branches, this means the period of time between 23:00 to 1:00), would look like a rat, and that thief would have a pointy mouth and hide in the toilet. In a word, thieves who stole things in different time periods of earthly branches, looked like different symbolic animals of the Chinese zodiac and hid in the places the animals liked. This differs in the modern Chinese zodiac, where the slip described deer as one of the 12 symbolic animals, there is no symbolic animal paired with the Chen Period (7:00-9:00).

Another bamboo slip unearthed in Gansu in 1986 also paired the Chinese zodiac with earthly branches, the Chen Period was paired with an insect, while in the modern zodiac, the Chen Period was paired with the Chinese Dragon. Below is a table about the relationship between the earthly branches and the Chinese Zodiac

The Personality of the Symbolic Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

The Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Chinese Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig are the twelve symbolic animals of the Chinese Zodiac. They have different personalities. Check out the explanations below to find how people relate to the various animals.

The Rat

chinese zodiac rat

Year of Birth: 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032

Ideal Companion: Chinese Dragon, Monkey, Ox
Best Time for the Rat in a Day: Zi Period (23:00 to 1:00)

Pros and Cons:

People who belong to the Rat are usually smarter than people who belong to other symbolic animals. Rats believe they can succeed even when they are suffering. However, the Rats’ teamwork is inefficient. It is said that a Rat betrayed its partner, the cat, to get a position in the 12 symbolic animals. So other symbolic animals look down upon Rats and do not like to work with them.

The Ox

chinese zodiac ox

Year of Birth: 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033

Ideal Companion: Snake, Rooster, Rat

Best Time for Ox in a Day: Chou Period (1:00 to 3:00)

Pros and Cons:

Everything goes smoothly with the people who belong to the Ox. They are conscientious in work and easy-going in daily life. Other symbolic animals like to be with the Ox. The People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, a year of the Ox, so people belonging to the Ox are probably luckier than other symbolic animals. However, Oxen lack enthusiasm and flexibility. They need smart symbolic animals’ to give them ideas.

The Tiger

chinese zodiac tiger

Year of Birth: 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022, 2034
Ideal Companion: Pig, Horse, Dog
Best Time for Tiger in a Day: Yin Period (3:00 to 5:00)

Pros and Cons:

Tigers are powerful and brave. When they make a decision, other animals dare not say no. They are good at encouraging others and usually leaders of a team. However due to their power, other animals are often scared by Tigers. The Tigers have to show a more gentle part of their personality when talking to others.

The Rabbit

chinese zodiac rabbit

Year of Birth: 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035
Ideal Companion: Dog, Pig, Goat
Best Time for Rabbit in a Day: Mao Period (5:00 to 7:00)

Pros and Cons:
The Rabbit is the favorite in the 12 symbolic animals. The women who belong to the Rabbit are usually beautiful and charming. Rabbits can be artists, models and anything related to fashion. Rabbits love the entertainment industry and are not good in traditional jobs spending most of their time chasing fashion, which wastes good time when they should be working to maximum capacity in effective employment.

The Chinese Dragon

chinese zodiac dragon

Year of Birth: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, 2036
Ideal Companion: Rooster, Rat, Monkey
Best Time for Chinese Dragon in a Day: Chen Period (7:00 to 9:00)

Pros and Cons:

The Chinese Dragon is the only mythological animal in the 12 symbolic animals. In ancient times, people never told others they belonged to the Chinese Dragon, because the dragon was the symbol for the emperors. The ancient dynasties were changing, but the symbol for the emperors never changes. People who belong to Chinese Dragon are confident and always searching for the perfection. They need to relax on their way to perfection otherwise others do not want to cooperate with them.

The Snake

chinese zodiac snake

Year of Birth: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025, 2037

Ideal Companion: Monkey, Ox, Rooster

Best Time for Snake in a Day: Si Period (9:00-11:00)

Pros and Cons:

Snake is also called the small Chinese Dragon, because it is inferior to the Chinese Dragon. Chinese people compare the Snake with an insidious personality. People who belong to Snake are undefeatable. They know their disadvantages and are always trying to improve. A failure is just like the process of sloughing skin. Every time a Snake sloughs skin, it gets a new life. Being an athlete is perhaps the best occupation for Snakes.

The Horse

chinese zodiac horse

Year of Birth: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026, 2038

Ideal Companion: Goat, Dog, Tiger
Best Time for Horse in a Day: Wu Period (11:00-13:00)

Pros and Cons:

Horses are loyal to their owners. In lots of ancient Chinese stories, the loyal Horses committed suicide after their owners died. It is safe to tell your secrets to a friend who belongs to the Horse. The Wu Period is the solar period according to the Chinese earthly branch theory. Horses are easily out of control during the Wu Period. They may show off or lose their temper within the two hours. So do not provoke a Horse during the Wu Period.

The Goat

chinese zodiac goat

Year of Birth: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027, 2039

Ideal Companion: Horse, Snake, Chinese Dragon

Best Time for Goat in a Day: Wei Period (13:00-15:00)

Pros and Cons:

Goats are gentle, polite, sentimental and generous. Philanthropists probably belong to the Goat. Artists and writers are also a Goat’s favorite occupation. Goat can never refuse to help their friends. When their friends betray or misunderstand them, the Goat becomes very depressed, because they love their friends so much. It hurts the Goat when they see their friends do not love them as much as they do to their friends. Misunderstanding may kill a friendship with a Goat.

The Monkey

chinese zodiac monkey

Year of Birth: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028, 2040

Ideal Companion: Rat, Snake, Chinese Dragon

Best Time for Monkey in a Day: Shen Period (15:00-17:00)

Pros and Cons:

Monkeys are as smart as Rats, but the Monkey never hurts others for benefit, so a Monkey is much more welcomed by others than Rats are. A Monkey likes change, so people who belong to the Monkey can often work out new methods for their jobs. However, sometimes Monkeys change too quickly so their friends need to remind them that persistence is as important as new ideas.

The Rooster

chinese zodiac chicken

Year of Birth: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029, 2041

Ideal Companion: Ox, Chinese Dragon, Snake

Best Time for Rooster in a Day: You Period (17:00-19:00)

Pros and Cons:

People who belong to the Rooster are honest, enthusiastic and eager to get help. They are keen on new things. They know the latest fashion. However, their enthusiasm becomes cold very fast, especially in a relationship. If they lose their enthusiasm, they can easily say goodbye to their companions. They need someone who is authoritative to guide them in the right way.

The Dog

chinese zodiac dog

Year of Birth: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042

Ideal Companion: Tiger, Rabbit, Horse

Best Time for Dog in a Day: Xu Period (19:00-21:00)

Pros and Cons:

Dogs are loyal, fair-minded and decent. People like Dogs due to their lovely appearances. People who belong to the Dog are always doing everything for their companions, so their companions do not have to work for money. But their companions have to do what a Dog tells them to do, otherwise they will be very disappointed. Dogs lack of the ability to communicate. They have to work with people who know them very well and will help them to communicate with others.

The Pig

chinese zodiac pig

Year of Birth: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2043
Ideal Companion: Rabbit, Chinese Dragon, Pig
Best Time for Pig in a Day: Hai Period (21:00-23:00)

Pros and Cons:
Pigs are the only symbolic animal who can benefit from same-symbolic-animal marriages. Pigs are easy-going, so almost everyone who belongs to every other symbolic animal would have an excellent marriage with a Pig. Pigs do not like to talk, but it does not mean they do not have their own thoughts. A Pigs’ workmates have to try their best to persuade the Pig to talk, because Pigs’ will never let others down.

You may also like:

  1. Chinese Operas
  2. Chinese Kungfu
  3. Confucianism
  4. How to be Lucky in China
By Ruth Wickham
Chief Editor & Writer