Chinese Zodiac – The twelve Chinese Signs are well-known, but each sign is unique and individual with its own strengths and flaws.
The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat. The following are the twelve zodiac signs (each with its associated Earthly Branch) in order and their characteristics.
Rat – 鼠 (子) (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Water)
Ox – 牛 (丑) (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Earth)
Tiger – 虎 (寅) (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Wood)
Rabbit – 兔 or 兎 (卯) (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Wood)
Dragon – 龍 / 龙 (辰) (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Earth)
Snake – 蛇 (巳) (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Fire)
Horse – 馬 / 马 (午) (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Fire)
Sheep – 羊 (未) (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Earth)
Monkey – 猴 (申) (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Metal)
Rooster – 雞 / 鸡 (酉) (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Metal)
Dog – 狗 / 犬 (戌) (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Earth)
Pig – 豬 / 猪 (亥) (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Water)
In Chinese astrology the animal signs assigned by year represent what others perceive you as being 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).
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 secretively.
Chinese Zodiac Calendar
The Chinese lunisolar calendar is divided into 12 months of 29 or 30 days. The calendar is adjusted to the length of the solar year by the addition of extra months at regular intervals. The years are arranged in major cycles of 60 years. Each successive year is named after one of 12 animals. (Learn more about the Chinese Zodiac.) These 12-year cycles are continuously repeated. The Chinese New Year is celebrated at the second new moon after the winter solstice and falls between January 21 and February 19 on the Gregorian calendar.