The Chinese Zodiac

Baby African Green Monkey

I took this photo in our backyard last April. There was a troup of monkeys that came through our yard every evening so we had the whole family crossing through the Flambouyant Tree. I caught this “lil one” as it stopped to rest.

Brenda Mcnatt


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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:

Rat (Zi)

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

Tiger (Yin)

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

Dragon (Chen)

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

Snake (Si)

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

Horse (Wu)

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

Monkey (Shen)

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

Dog (Xu)

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

Chinese Zodiac

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Reader Comments

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I would like to thank you for

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.

My Chinese zodiac sign is

My Chinese zodiac sign is sheep 1979. Could you tell me what my indian zodiac sign is and also western zodiac sign are. Thanks.

Actually part of the

Actually part of the information is incorrect it is not a 12 year cycle rather it is 5 12 year cycles. For a total of a 60 year cycle.

Each of the 12 year cycles follow an element... Metal, water, wood, fire and earth.

Each of the 12 signs also have a element given directly too it.
Metal = Monkey & Rooster
Earth = Ox, Sheep & Dog
Fire = Snake & Horse
Wood = Tiger, Rabbit & Dragon
Water = Rat & Pig

Then, each animal sign is further divided into the five elements, depending on the year that the sign occurs. Using this years sign as and example.
•Metal Horse (1930, 1990,)
•Earth Horse (1918, 1978)
•Fire Horse (1966, 2026)
•Wood Horse (1954, 2014)
•Water Horse (1942, 2002)

Each of the five elements occurs within each animal sign occurs once every 12 years. Therefore, each specific animal-element combination – e.g. the Wood Horse – repeats once every 60 years.

A person’s characteristics are determined both by the ruling element of their sign as well as the element of that particular year that they are born. E.g. A Water Rooster will be controlled by both Water and Metal.

And each of the element influences the traits of the actual sign whereas the wood sign is the least effective. 'The most grounded of the Horses' and the fire sign as the name reflect the most ratical 'Led mostly by his heart and his passions, this is the wildest and most volatile of Horses'.

Google it for more info and have fun. Try googling the east meets west astrology and see how one influences the other!

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! We have updated the article to make it clear that the rotating list of 12 animal names of the Chinese zodiac is part of a larger 60-year rotating name system used by the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar.

Double Cat sign.

Double Cat sign.
Not only am I a tiger by virtue of the Chinese zodiac, but I'm also a Leo according to the western Zodiac. No wonder I get along so well with kitty cats! LOL!!

Im year of the rooster Im

Im year of the rooster Im happy because IM not a year of a dog and pig because the year of the dog and pig are a bad luck the dragon.snake and horse are a good luck

Nice summary of the Chinese

Nice summary of the Chinese Zodiac, but I think you need to take into account the time of birth, isn't it?

Here they say that with that one can calculate the ascendant and also the chinese natal chart:


It seems pretty complex anyway...

Just as in western astrology,

Just as in western astrology, with Chinese astrology, people can fine-tune it as much as they would like, depending on their goal. For general interest, many people just take into account the year they were born, and the animal sign associated with it (the terrestial branch); in this case, the chart we provide is fine (see note at top of page about the Chinese lunisolar calendar vs. Gregorian). Others prefer to also consider other individual aspects, such as the 5 celestial stems and the Yin/Yang cycle at the time they were born. As you say, it can become complex. If one is interested in a full individual assessment, s/he might consider consulting a professional in Chinese astrology.

social studies

I find this very interesting to know ☺

Here's a twist!!! Eastern

Here's a twist!!! Eastern zodiac-Dragon, Western zodiac-scales/scorpion, Native American-Raven, Celtic-Butterfly. If you read each description you will find a part of me!! Quite interesting reading and those who know me well reap the benefits!!

I have never quite trusted

I have never quite trusted these western calendar dates. I was born during the first few days of January, 1955 - but I have always wondered if that did not actually put me at the end of the year of the Horse.

You are correct you are a

You are correct you are a wood horse were born between February 3, 1954 and January 23, 1955 in the Chinese Zodiac sign. Unlike Western astrology the Chinese Zodiac does not follow the Gregorian calender rather the lunar calender which starts at varying dates in the first few weeks of each year. So anyone born within the first several weeks of a year should do a search to find when the exact date of that year started.

I am a Rabbit person Western

I am a Rabbit person Western Zodiac the sign of the Scales and Native American Raven

im the tiger i compatible

im the tiger i compatible with someone loyal and attractive

I am a pig in the Chinese

I am a pig in the Chinese Zodiac. I was born January 13th, 1947. My opposite is the snake, and I am compatible with the rabbit and the sheep. In the American Zodiac I am a goat or ram.

How can you be the goat or

How can you be the goat or ram? Goat is Capricorn and Ram is Aries. You can only be one or the other.

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