The Chinese Lunar Calendar is one of the oldest in history dating back to 2637 BC. The Chinese Zodiac is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This follows a cyclical concept of time. The Chinese see time as a rotating cycle; something that is repeated time after time following a particular pattern.
The Chinese have adopted the Western calendar since 1911, and the ancient lunar calendar is popular only during festive times, like the Chinese New Year. Find out how the Chinese Zodiac Calendar is different from the western zodiac. We list out the characteristics of each Chinese zodiac sign. Find out what animal sign you come under!
The Chinese Lunar calendar is basically different from the Western concept of time which is linear. For the westerner, time proceeds in a straight line: past, present and future: before and after the birth of Christ. The Chinese Zodiac is based on the Lunar Calendar: based on the cycles of the Moon whereas the westerner follows the Solar Calendar: based on the movements of the Sun. Chinese see Moon as the closest to the Earth and believe in its tremendous effects on us. While the solar calendar begins on January 1, the Chinese lunar calendar begins sometime between late January and early February.
Each year of the Chinese Lunar Calendar is assigned a particular animal sign. The animals in the particular order of appearance are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and boar (pig). This is akin to the different moon signs in the western zodiac. After every twelve years, the same animal sign reappears.
Chinese Zodiac Calendar
As ancient folklore goes, Lord Buddha summoned all the animals at the time of departing from the Earth. Only twelve animals came to bid him farewell. As a reward he named a year after each one in the order that it arrived, with rat being the first and the pig the last.
According to another Chinese legend, the twelve animals quarreled one day as to who was to head the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide and they held a contest; whoever was to reach the opposite bank of the river would be first and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish. All the twelve animals gathered at the river bank and jumped in.
Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped upon his back. Just when the ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox's back and won the race. The pig, which was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second and the pig last.
Chinese Zodiac sign
According to the Chinese Zodiac, the animal sign predicts the person's inborn characteristics. Yet it would be a misconception to say that there is only one single animal associated with a particular person. The Chinese zodiac assigns the animal signs not just to the year but also to particular months of the calendar year as well as the local time of the day. Each animal sign corresponds to a 'large hour' consisting of a two hour period for each animal (12 animal signs x 2 = 24 hours of a day).
The yearly cycle represents what we perceive as the 'external personality' of the person. The 'inner animal' is assigned by the month and the 'secret animal' by the exact time of birth. For example, a person may appear as a 'Dragon' externally, but internally he may be a 'snake' or an 'ox'.
Rat: The rat is said to have positive qualities in the Chinese Zodiac. Persons born in the years 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 and 2008 come under the rat sign. These persons are imaginative, generous and lovable. They also tend to be critical, opportunistic and short tempered.
Ox: The Ox (Buffalo) inspires confidence and is a born leader. Conservative, egoistic and demanding, the buffalo is also methodical. Persons born in 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997 and 2009 come under this Chinese zodiac sign.
Tiger: The tiger exhibits bossy qualities. Although sensitive, emotional and capable of great love, persons born under this Chinese zodiac sign are stubborn and arrogant. Persons born in 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998 and 2010 come under this animal sign.
Rabbit: The fourth Chinese zodiac sign is the rabbit which is affectionate and pleasant. But it is sometimes too sentimental, often bordering on artificiality. A rabbit is also very cautious and conservative. Those born in the years 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 and 2011 come fall under the rabbit sign.
Dragon: The dragon is sign of a popular individual, an intelligent, gifted, perfectionist. There is fear of the dragon being over-talkative and foolhardy at times. People born in 1916,1928,1940,1952,1964,1976,1988 and 2000 born come under this Chinese zodiac sign.
Snake: The snake is romantic and strongly intuitive. Charming and wise, humorous, the snake has the disadvantage of being called stingy and procrastinating. Those born in the years 1917, 1929, 1941,1953,1965,1977, 1989 and 2001 are 'snakes'.
Horse: The horse has the capacity for hard work. Independent, intelligent, friendly, the horse can also be cunning, selfish and egoistical. 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954,1966,1978,1990.2002 and 2014 year born are 'horses'.
Goat: The goat is charming, elegant and artistic. But it is always complaining and is not very friendly. It is pessimistic and bothers more on material comforts. Those born in the years 1919, 1931,1943,1955,1967,1979,1991,2003 and 2015 come under this animal sign.
Monkey: The monkey is very clever and intelligent. It has a magnetic personality and is well-liked. Yet there is fear of monkey being opportunistic.1920, 1932,1944,1956,1968,1980,1992,2004 and 2016 come under this Chinese zodiac sign.
Rooster: The rooster is hard working, and frank. It is shrewd but boastful at times. It is flashy, dressy and extremely extravagant. All dreamers are roosters. Those born in 1921, 1933,1945,1957,1969.1981,1993, 1005 and 2017 fall under this sign.
Dog: The dog is honest and faithful to its master. It is trustworthy, but is constantly worrying, sharp tongued and given to fault finding. The Chinese zodiac sign dog includes those born in 1922,1934,1946,1958, 1970,1982,1994,2006 and 2018.
Pig: The pig is the last of the twelve animal signs in the Chinese Zodiac. It is intelligent, strong and sincere. Tolerant and honest and good companion, the Pig is materialistic and naive. Those born in the years 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007 and 2019 come under this sign.
Each of the twelve animal signs interacts with each other in a 'special' way. This is explained by a 'compatibility chart' in the Chinese zodiac. Numbers 1 to 10 are ranked on a scale with 1as least compatible and 10 most compatible.
In addition to the animal signs, the Chinese zodiac believes that the entire universe is controlled by the five elements: metal, water, wood, fire and earth which act on the basic animal sign in every individual. These five elements are associated with the five major planets: Venus (Metal), Jupiter (Wood), Mercury (Water), Mars (Fire) and Saturn (Earth). The Chinese Zodiac does not classify the elements as weakest or strongest. They are equal and work on and with each other. They are linked by the chain of life.
The Chinese Zodiac works on a binary 'Yin-Yang' cycle, with each of the above five elements enlarged to a cycle of ten. Even years are 'Yang' and odd years are 'Yin'. The zodiac animal cycle of twelve is divisible by two and each zodiac occurs either in a Yin or a Yang. The Dragon for instance, is a Yang. The Snake is a Yin. This combination creates a sixty year cycle beginning with the rat and ending with the Pig. It is astounding to note that there are 8640 combinations in the Chinese Zodiac: a combination of 5 elements, 12 animals, 12 months and 12 times a year.