The animal designations of the Chinese zodiac follow a 12-year cycle and are always used in the same sequence
Year of the Monkey
In 2016, the Chinese New Year begins on February 8 (according to the Gregorian calendar). With festivals, lanterns, and parties, millions of people will ring in the Year of the Monkey, which refers to one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.
The monkey, the ninth animal in the Chinese Zodiac cycle, will not designate the year again until 2028. Next year will mark the year of the rooster.
Those born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be charming, clever, competitive, creative, curious, energetic, inventive, intelligent, mischievous, and optimistic. They love to try new things and have fun, but they tend to be self-oriented.
How the Chinese Zodiac Works
The traditional Chinese lunisolar year has 12 months of 353 to 355 days, or during a leap year, 13 months of 383 to 385 days.
Therefore, the Chinese year usually begins several weeks into the western 365-day year (usually between January 21 and February 20), not on January 1 of the Gregorian calendar.
As is ancient tradition, the Chinese zodiac attaches animal signs to each lunar year in a cycle of 12 years. The animal designation changes at the start of the New Year.
A Deeper Look
On a broader scale, the Chinise lunisolar calendar counts its years according to the stem-branch system, which is a 60-year rotating name system also known as the Chinese sexagenary cycle.By this, a year’s name actually contains two parts: the celestial stem and the terrestrial branch.
- The celestial, or heavenly stem, is taken from a rotating list of 10 terms concerning the yin/yang forms of five elements.
- The Stem (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water): jia, yi, bing, ding, wu, ji, geng, xin, ren, and gui.
jia = yang wood
yi = yin wood
bing = yang fire
ding = yin fire
wu = yang earth
ji = yin earth
geng = yang metal
xin = yin metal
ren = yang water
gui = yin water
- The terrestrial, or earthly, branch is taken from a rotating list of the 12 animal names of the Chinese zodia.
zi = rat
chou = ox
yin = tiger
mao = rabbit
chen = dragon
si = snake
wu = horse
wei = sheep/goat
shen = monkey
you = rooster
xu = dog
hai - boar/pig
So, putting the stem and branch terms together, the first year in a 60-year cycle is called jia-zi (Year of the Rat) as jia is the celestial stem and zi (rat) is the terrestrial branch. The next year is yi-chou (Year of the Ox), and son on. The 11th year is jia-xu, etc., until a new cycle starts over with jia-zi.
- 2016 is bing-shen (Year of the Monkey).
Which Chinese Zodiac Are You?
Below are the 12 animal designations of the Chinese zodiac:
Ambitious and sincere, you can be generous with your money. Compatible with the dragon and the monkey. Your opposite is the horse.
1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Ox or Buffalo (Chou)
A leader, you are bright, patient, and cheerful. Compatible with the snake and the rooster. Your opposite is the sheep.
1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Forthright and sensitive, you possess great courage. You have the ability to be a strong leader capable of great sympathy. Compatible with the horse and the dog. Your opposite is the monkey.
1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Rabbit or Hare (Mao)
Talented and affectionate, you are a seeker of tranquility. Compatible with the sheep and the pig. Your opposite is the rooster.
1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
Robust and passionate, your life is filled with complexity. Compatible with the monkey and the rat. Your opposite is the dog.
1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Strong-willed and intense, you display great wisdom. Compatible with the rooster and the ox. Your opposite is the pig.
1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
Physically attractive and popular, you like the company of others. Compatible with the tiger and the dog. Your opposite is the rat.
1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Sheep or Goat (Wei)
Aesthetic and stylish, you enjoy being a private person. Compatible with the pig and the rabbit. Your opposite is the ox.
1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Persuasive, skillful, and intelligent, you strive to excel. Compatible with the dragon and the rat. Your opposite is the tiger.
1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
Rooster or Cock (You)
Seeking wisdom and truth, you have a pioneering spirit. Compatible with the snake and the ox. Your opposite is the rabbit.
1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
Generous and loyal, you have the ability to work well with others. Compatible with the horse and the tiger. Your opposite is the dragon.
1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
Pig or Boar (Hai)
Gallant and noble, your friends will remain at your side. Compatible with the rabbit and the sheep. Your opposite is the snake.
1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031