The Chinese zodiac, or shengxiao (/shnng-sshyao/ ‘born resembling’), is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal and its reputed attributes.
In order, the 12 Chinese horoscope animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. 2019 is a year of the Pig.
12 Zodiac Signs
Chinese zodiac animals have lucky meanings. Chinese people associate each animal with certain characteristics. It’s believed that people born in a given year have the personality of that year’s animal. Click the animal signs below to learn more about each zodiac animal.
What’s Your Zodiac Animal?
Each zodiac animal’s year comes around every 12 years, and each year is associated with a zodiac animal. The most recent zodiac sign years are shown below.
Each Chinese zodiac animal has personality traits assigned to it by the ancient Chinese. Chinese people believe these traits will be embodied in people, according to their zodiac sign.
|Zodiac Animal||Recent Years||Personality Traits|
|Rat||1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020||Quick-witted, resourceful, versatile, kind|
|Ox||1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021||Diligent, dependable, strong, determined|
|Tiger||1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022||Brave, confident, competitive|
|Rabbit||1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023||Quiet, elegant, kind, responsible|
|Dragon||1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024||Confident, intelligent, enthusiastic|
|Snake||1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025||Enigmatic, intelligent, wise|
|Horse||1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026||Animated, active, energetic|
|Goat||1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027||Calm, gentle, sympathetic|
|Monkey||1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028||Sharp, smart, curiosity|
|Rooster||1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029||Observant, hardworking, courageous|
|Dog||1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030||Lovely, honest, prudent|
|Pig||1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031||Compassionate, generous, diligent|
Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility — Is he/she right for you?
People born in a certain animal year are believed to have attributes of that animal, which could either help or hinder a relationship.
An important use of the Chinese zodiac is to determine if two people are compatible, in a romantic relationship or any kind of relationship.
In ancient times people were faithful to Chinese zodiac compatibility and often referred to it before a romantic relationship began. Even nowadays some people still refer to it.
Best Matches for 12 Signs:
- Rat: Ox, Dragon, Rabbit
- Ox: Rat, Monkey, or Rooster
- Tiger: Dragon, Horse, or Pig
- Rabbit: Rat, Goat, Monkey, Dog, Pig
- Dragon: Rat, Tiger or Snake
- Snake: Dragon, Rooster
- Horse: Goat, Tiger
- Goat: Rabbit, Horse, Pig
- Monkey: Ox, Rabbit
- Rooster: Ox, Snake
- Dog: Rabbit
- Pig: Goat, Tiger, Rabbit
Chinese Zodiac Origins — Why 12 Animals
The 12 animals were chosen deliberately, after many revisions. The zodiac animals are either closely related to ancient Chinese people’s daily lives, or have lucky meanings.
Chinese zodiac uses the principles of yin and yang. Since the zodiac animal cycle of 12 is divisible by two, every zodiac sign can occur only as either Yin or Yang.
Get to know Chinese Zodiac story.
Ben Ming Nian (Zodiac Year of Birth)
As the Chinese zodiac recurs every 12 years, your animal year will come around when you are 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, etc. According to ancient Chinese superstition, in your birth sign year, you will offend the God of Age, and will have bad luck during that year. Read more on How to be Lucky in Your Zodiac Year.
Chinese Zodiac Hours — Every hour has an animal.
It is widely known that each year is associated with a Chinese zodiac animal, but the animal signs are also assigned to months, days of the week, and hours.
According to professional Chinese astrology, a person’s personality and life is more decided by his/her birth hour than year. Zodiac hours, days, months, and years are used together for in-depth character and destiny analysis. In popular astrology, by contrast, only the birth year is used.
In ancient times, in order to tell the time, people divided a day into twelve 2-hour periods, and designated an animal to represent each period, according to each animal’s “special time, according to an ancient mnemonic and common observations.
|Rat||11pm-1am||Rats forage most actively.||The ancients heard them at this hour.|
|Ox||1-3am||Oxen chew the cud most comfortably.||People of old would get up and feed them at this time.|
|Tiger||3-5am||Tigers hunt most ferociously.||Chinese people long ago often hear them roaring at this time.|
|Rabbit||5-7am||Rabbits pound the ground most fervently.||Rabbits were seen to come out of their holes to eat grass with dew at dawn.|
|Dragon||7-9am||Dragons hover most thickly.||Morning mists, particularly coils around hills, made people think of dragons.|
|Snake||9-11am||Snakes emerge most readily.||Snakes come out to sun themselves as the morning sun warms the ground.|
|Horse||11am-1pm||Horses stand most impressively.||When the sun is strongest, only horses were seen standing, while most other animals would lie down to rest.|
|Goat||1-3pm||Goats eat and urinate most frequently.||This was reputedly the best time to herd goats, when the sun had dried the dew on the undergrowth.|
|Monkey||3-5pm||Monkeys play most vigorously.||Monkeys were seen and heard playing and calling in the trees at this time.|
|Rooster||5-7pm||Roosters return to their coops most routinely.||Roosters are routinely led back to their henhouses before sunset.|
|Dog||7-9pm||Dogs guard most dutifully.||People would take their dogs out to keep a watch at night before sleep.|
|Pig||9-11pm||Pigs snuffle most sweetly.||As they settled down to sleep, people heard pigs snouting their troughs.|
Chinese Zodiac Years are based on Chinese lunar calendar
There are two dates a Chinese zodiac year could be said to start on:
- Chinese New Year (day 1 of the lunar year), which is somewhere in the period January 21 to February 20
- Start of Spring (day 1 of the solar year), the first day of the first solar term in the traditional Chinese solar calendar, which falls in the period February 3–5.
Most Chinese people use lunar new year as the start of the zodiac year. But for professional fortune telling, Chinese astrologers use ‘Start of Spring’ or solar new year as the beginning of the zodiac year.
Chinese Zodiac is Used to Predict People’s Fortune
To make a relatively correct Chinese fortune prediction, people take many methods into consideration, such as face characteristics, palmistry, and more involved Chinese astrology including birth month, day, and hour, gender, etc.
Zodiac fortune prediction by birth year is only one of these methods. So you may only take Chinese zodiac birth sign horoscopes as a general reference.