Chinese zodiac
Chinese Zodiac carvings on ceiling of Kushida Shrine, Fukuoka.jpg
Chinese生肖
Hanyu Pinyinshēngxiào
Alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese属相
Traditional Chinese屬相
Hanyu Pinyinshǔxiàng

The Chinese zodiac is a classification scheme based on the lunar calendar that assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year in a repeating 12-year cycle. The 12 year cycle is an approximation to the 11.85-year orbital period of Jupiter.[1] Originating from China, the zodiac and its variations remain popular in many East Asian countries, such as Japan,[2] South Korea,[3] Vietnam,[3] Cambodia,[4] and Thailand.[5]

Identifying this scheme using the generic term "zodiac" reflects several superficial similarities to the Western zodiac: both have time cycles divided into 12 parts, each labels at least the majority of those parts with names of animals, and each is widely associated with a culture of ascribing a person's personality or events in their life to the supposed influence of the person's particular relationship to the cycle.

Nevertheless, there are major differences between the two: the animals of the Chinese zodiac are not associated with constellations spanned by the ecliptic plane. The Chinese 12-part cycle corresponds to years, rather than months. The Chinese zodiac is represented by 12 animals, whereas some of the signs in the Western zodiac are not animals, despite the implication of the etymology of the English word zodiac, which derives from zōdiacus, the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek zōidiakòs kýklos (ζῳδιακός κύκλος), meaning "cycle or circle of little animals".

Signs

A stone carving of the Chinese zodiac.

The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat. The following are the twelve zodiac signs in order, each with its associated characteristics (Earthly Branch, yin/yang force, Trine, and nature element).[6]

  1. Rat, shǔ () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Water)
  2. Ox, niú () (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Earth)
  3. Tiger, hǔ () (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Wood)
  4. Rabbit, tù () (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Wood)
  5. Dragon/, lóng () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Earth)
  6. Snake, shé () (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Fire)
  7. Horse/, mǎ () (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Fire)
  8. Goat, yáng () (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Earth)
  9. Monkey, hóu () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Metal)
  10. Rooster/, jī () (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Metal)
  11. Dog, gǒu () (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Earth)
  12. Pig/, zhū () (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Water)

In Chinese astrology the animal signs assigned by year represent how others perceive you or how you present yourself. It is a common misconception that the animals assigned by year are the only signs, and many Western descriptions of Chinese astrology draw solely on this system. In fact, there are also animal signs assigned by month (called "inner animals"), by day (called "true animals") and hours (called "secret animals"). The Earth is all 12 signs, 5 seasons.

While a person might appear to be a Dragon because they were born in the year of the Dragon, they might also be a Snake internally, an Ox truly, and a Goat secretly.

A conflict between a person's zodiac sign and how they live is known as Tai Sui, kai sui

Chinese calendar

Years

Within the Four Pillars, the year is the pillar representing information about the person's family background and society or relationship with their grandparents. The person's age can also be easily deduced from the sign of the person, the current sign of the year and the person's perceived age (teens, mid-20s, 40s and so on). For example, a person who is a Tiger is either 12, 24, 36 or 48 years old in 2010, the year of the Tiger. In 2011, the year of the Rabbit, that person is one year older.

The following table shows the 60-year cycle matched up to the Gregorian calendar for the years 1924–2043 (see sexagenary cycle article for years 1804–2043). The sexagenary cycle begins at lichun about February 4 according to some astrological sources.[7][8]

  Year Associated
element
Heavenly
stem
Earthly
branch
Associated
animal
Year
1924–1983 1984–2043
1 Feb 05 1924–Jan 23 1925 Yang Wood Rat Feb 02 1984–Feb 19 1985
2 Jan 24 1925–Feb 12 1926 Yin Wood Ox Feb 20 1985–Feb 08 1986
3 Feb 13 1926–Feb 01 1927 Yang Fire Tiger Feb 09 1986–Jan 28 1987
4 Feb 02 1927–Jan 22 1928 Yin Fire Rabbit Jan 29 1987–Feb 16 1988
5 Jan 23 1928–Feb 09 1929 Yang Earth Dragon Feb 17 1988–Feb 05 1989
6 Feb 10 1929–Jan 29 1930 Yin Earth Snake Feb 06 1989–Jan 26 1990
7 Jan 30 1930–Feb 16 1931 Yang Metal Horse Jan 27 1990–Feb 14 1991
8 Feb 17 1931–Feb 05 1932 Yin Metal Goat Feb 15 1991–Feb 03 1992
9 Feb 06 1932–Jan 25 1933 Yang Water Monkey Feb 04 1992–Jan 22 1993
10 Jan 26 1933–Feb 13 1934 Yin Water Rooster Jan 23 1993–Feb 09 1994
11 Feb 14 1934–Feb 03 1935 Yang Wood Dog Feb 10 1994–Jan 30 1995
12 Feb 04 1935–Jan 23 1936 Yin Wood Pig Jan 31 1995–Feb 18 1996
13 Jan 24 1936–Feb 10 1937 Yang Fire Rat Feb 19 1996–Feb 06 1997
14 Feb 11 1937–Jan 30 1938 Yin Fire Ox Feb 07 1997–Jan 27 1998
15 Jan 31 1938–Feb 18 1939 Yang Earth Tiger Jan 28 1998–Feb 15 1999
16 Feb 19 1939–Feb 07 1940 Yin Earth Rabbit Feb 16 1999–Feb 04 2000
17 Feb 08 1940–Jan 26 1941 Yang Metal Dragon Feb 05 2000–Jan 23 2001
18 Jan 27 1941–Feb 14 1942 Yin Metal Snake Jan 24 2001–Feb 11 2002
19 Feb 15 1942–Feb 04 1943 Yang Water Horse Feb 12 2002–Jan 31 2003
20 Feb 05 1943–Jan 24 1944 Yin Water Goat Feb 01 2003–Jan 21 2004
21 Jan 25 1944–Feb 12 1945 Yang Wood Monkey Jan 22 2004–Feb 08 2005
22 Feb 13 1945–Feb 01 1946 Yin Wood Rooster Feb 09 2005–Jan 28 2006
23 Feb 02 1946–Jan 21 1947 Yang Fire Dog Jan 29 2006–Feb 17 2007
24 Jan 22 1947–Feb 09 1948 Yin Fire Pig Feb 18 2007–Feb 06 2008
25 Feb 10 1948–Jan 28 1949 Yang Earth Rat Feb 07 2008–Jan 25 2009
26 Jan 29 1949–Feb 16 1950 Yin Earth Ox Jan 26 2009–Feb 13 2010
27 Feb 17 1950–Feb 05 1951 Yang Metal Tiger Feb 14 2010–Feb 02 2011
28 Feb 06 1951–Jan 26 1952 Yin Metal Rabbit Feb 03 2011–Jan 22 2012
29 Jan 27 1952–Feb 13 1953 Yang Water Dragon Jan 23 2012–Feb 09 2013
30 Feb 14 1953–Feb 02 1954 Yin Water Snake Feb 10 2013–Jan 30 2014
31 Feb 03 1954–Jan 23 1955 Yang Wood Horse Jan 31 2014–Feb 18 2015
32 Jan 24 1955–Feb 11 1956 Yin Wood Goat Feb 19 2015–Feb 07 2016
33 Feb 12 1956–Jan 30 1957 Yang Fire Monkey Feb 08 2016–Jan 27 2017
34 Jan 31 1957–Feb 17 1958 Yin Fire Rooster Jan 28 2017–Feb 15 2018
35 Feb 18 1958–Feb 07 1959 Yang Earth Dog Feb 16 2018–Feb 04 2019
36 Feb 08 1959–Jan 27 1960 Yin Earth Pig Feb 05 2019–Jan 24 2020
37 Jan 28 1960–Feb 14 1961 Yang Metal Rat Jan 25 2020–Feb 11 2021
38 Feb 15 1961–Feb 04 1962 Yin Metal Ox Feb 12 2021–Jan 31 2022
39 Feb 05 1962–Jan 24 1963 Yang Water Tiger Feb 01 2022–Jan 21 2023
40 Jan 25 1963–Feb 12 1964 Yin Water Rabbit Jan 22 2023–Feb 09 2024
41 Feb 13 1964–Feb 01 1965 Yang Wood Dragon Feb 10 2024–Jan 28 2025
42 Feb 02 1965–Jan 20 1966 Yin Wood Snake Jan 29 2025–Feb 16 2026
43 Jan 21 1966–Feb 08 1967 Yang Fire Horse Feb 17 2026–Feb 05 2027
44 Feb 09 1967–Jan 29 1968 Yin Fire Goat Feb 06 2027–Jan 25 2028
45 Jan 30 1968–Feb 16 1969 Yang Earth Monkey Jan 26 2028–Feb 12 2029
46 Feb 17 1969–Feb 05 1970 Yin Earth Rooster Feb 13 2029–Feb 02 2030
47 Feb 06 1970–Jan 26 1971 Yang Metal Dog Feb 03 2030–Jan 22 2031
48 Jan 27 1971–Feb 14 1972 Yin Metal Pig Jan 23 2031–Feb 10 2032
49 Feb 15 1972–Feb 02 1973 Yang Water Rat Feb 11 2032–Jan 30 2033
50 Feb 03 1973–Jan 22 1974 Yin Water Ox Jan 31 2033–Feb 18 2034
51 Jan 23 1974–Feb 10 1975 Yang Wood Tiger Feb 19 2034–Feb 07 2035
52 Feb 11 1975–Jan 30 1976 Yin Wood Rabbit Feb 08 2035–Jan 27 2036
53 Jan 31 1976–Feb 17 1977 Yang Fire Dragon Jan 28 2036–Feb 14 2037
54 Feb 18 1977–Feb 06 1978 Yin Fire Snake Feb 15 2037–Feb 03 2038
55 Feb 07 1978–Jan 27 1979 Yang Earth Horse Feb 04 2038–Jan 23 2039
56 Jan 28 1979–Feb 15 1980 Yin Earth Goat Jan 24 2039–Feb 11 2040
57 Feb 16 1980–Feb 04 1981 Yang Metal Monkey Feb 12 2040–Jan 31 2041
58 Feb 05 1981–Jan 24 1982 Yin Metal Rooster Feb 01 2041–Jan 21 2042
59 Jan 25 1982–Feb 12 1983 Yang Water Dog Jan 22 2042–Feb 09 2043
60 Feb 13 1983–Feb 01 1984 Yin Water Pig Feb 10 2043–Jan 29 2044

Months and solar terms

Within the Four Pillars, the month is the pillar representing information about the person's parents or childhood. Many Chinese astrologers consider the month pillar to be the most important one in determining the circumstances of one's adult life.

The 12 animals are also linked to the traditional Chinese agricultural calendar, which runs alongside the better known Lunar calendar. Instead of months, this calendar is divided into 24 two week segments known as Solar Terms. Each animal is linked to two of these solar terms for a period similar to the Western month. Unlike the 60 year Lunar calendar, which can vary by as much as a month in relation to the Gregorian calendar, the agricultural calendar varies by only one day, beginning on the Gregorian calendar on 3 or 4 February every year. Again unlike the cycle of the lunar years, which begins with the Rat, the agricultural calendar begins with the Tiger as it is the first animal of spring.

As each sign is linked to a month of the solar year, it is thereby also linked to a season. Each of the elements is also linked to a season (see above), and the element that shares a season with a sign is known as that sign's fixed element. In other words, that element is believed to impart some of its characteristics to the sign concerned. The fixed element of each sign applies also to the year and hour signs, and not just the monthly sign. The fixed element is separate from the cycle of elements which interact with the signs in the 60-year cycle.

Season Lunar month Fixed
element
Solar
longitude
Solar term Gregorian date Approx.
Western
zodiac
Spring 1st – 寅 (yin) Tiger Wood 314° 立春 lìchūn Feb 4 – Feb 19 Aquarius
329° 雨水 yǔshuǐ Feb 20 – Mar 5 Pisces
2nd – 卯 (mao) Rabbit Wood 344° 啓蟄 qǐzhé (驚蟄 jīngzhé) Mar 6 – Mar 20
359° 春分 chūnfēn Mar 21 – Apr 4 Aries
3rd – 辰 (chen) Dragon Earth 14° 清明 qīngmíng Apr 5 – Apr 20
29° 穀雨 gǔyǔ Apr 21 – May 4 Taurus
Summer 4th – 巳 (si) Snake Fire 44° 立夏 lìxià May 5 – May 21
59° 小滿 xiǎomǎn May 22 – Jun 5 Gemini
5th – 午 (wu) Horse Fire 74° 芒種 mángzhòng Jun 6 – Jun 21
89° 夏至 xiàzhì Jun 22 – Jul 6 Cancer
6th – 未 (wei) Goat Earth 104° 小暑 xiǎoshǔ Jul 7 – Jul 22
119° 大暑 dàshǔ Jul 23 – Aug 6 Leo
Autumn 7th – 申 (shen) Monkey Metal 134° 立秋 lìqiū Aug 7 – Aug 22
149° 處暑 chùshǔ Aug 23 – Sep 7 Virgo
8th – 酉 (you) Rooster Metal 164° 白露 báilù Sep 8 – Sep 23
181° 秋分 qiūfēn Sep 24 – Oct 7 Libra
9th – 戌 (xu) Dog Earth 194° 寒露 hánlù Oct 8 – Oct 23
211° 霜降 shuāngjiàng Oct 24 – Nov 6 Scorpio
Winter 10th – 亥 (hai) Pig Water 224° 立冬 lìdōng Nov 7 – Nov 22
244° 小雪 xiǎoxuě Nov 23 – Dec 6 Sagittarius
11th – 子 (zi) Rat Water 251° 大雪 dàxuě Dec 7 – Dec 21
271° 冬至 dōngzhì Dec 22 – Jan 5 Capricorn
12th – 丑 (chou) Ox Earth 284° 小寒 xiǎohán Jan 6 – Jan 20
299° 大寒 dàhán Jan 21 – Feb 3 Aquarius

Day

Four pillars calculators can determine the zodiac animal of the day.[9] Chinese animal signs rule over days of the week, too. The term for them is “True Animals”. If your astrologer wishes to prepare an astrological chart (aka horoscope), it is essential he or she knows the animals of your day of birth. Given there are only seven days of the week and 12 animals, there is some repetition or doubling up. The animals for each day are as follows: