The Chinese zodiac is the 12-year cycle of the 12 animals that are representative of the years. Each year is named after one animal and each animal has identifiable traits that are said to influence those people who are born in that year.
The Chinese zodiac is cyclical, repeating over and over. This is in contrast to the Western view of time being linear. Also, in contrast to the occidental zodiac, the Chinese zodiac is not based on constellations, but is purely a calendrical cycle.
There are several legends that tell the story of how the 12 animals won the distinction of having a year named after them. In the sixth century B.C., the Jade Emperor invited all animals to participate in a race. Only 12 showed up and were rewarded with having a year named after them.
The rat was a horrible swimmer, but very intelligent and decided to hop on the back of the ox to cross the river. As the ox neared the finish line, the rat jumped off and came in first place, followed by the ox. Following the ox, came the tiger and the rabbit. The dragon came in fifth and when the Emperor asked why such a powerful animal who could fly came in fifth, the dragon replied that he had to stop and help make rain for the people and crops on the earth. After the dragon finished, the horse neared the finish line. However, the snake had wrapped himself around the horse’s leg and frightened the horse, causing him to come in seventh place behind the snake. Next came the sheep, monkey, and rooster. The dog came in eleventh, stating that he got sidetracked taking a bath in the river. Finally, the pig finished twelfth. Thus, the order of the years was established.
Each animal carries with it certain personality traits that are said to be passed on to whoever is born in that year.
Rat - 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
People born in the Year of the Rat are charming, aggressive, and imaginative. They can be quick-tempered, gossipy, and thrifty. They are ambitious and can be quite successful.
Ox - 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
Ox people are patient, conservative, and calm. They inspire others and are capable of enduring hardships without complaining. Generally, easy-going, they can be stubborn and hate to fail.
Tiger - 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
Those born in the Year of the Tiger are sensitive, deep thinkers, and good sympathizers. Others have great respect for them, but Tigers can be short-tempered and conflict with others. Tiger people often make hasty decisions.
Rabbit - 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
People born in the Year of the Rabbit are talented, articulate, and ambitious. Others admire and trust them. They seldom lose their temper and are mostly gentle.
Dragon - 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
Dragon people are energetic, excitable, and healthy. They can be quick-tempered and stubborn, but are brave and honest. Dragon people are the most eccentric of any animal in the zodiac.
Snake - 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
People born in the Year of the Snake are deep-thinkers, but say little. They are packed with wisdom and financially fortunate. Snake people can be vain, selfish, and stingy.
Horse - 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Horse people are popular and cheerful. They are skillful with money and perceptive, though they can talk too much. They love crowds, yet are very independent. They can be hot-blooded and impatient.
Sheep - 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
Those born in the Year of the Sheep are often very artistic and elegant. Sheep people are often shy and pessimistic, but are deeply religious. They are passionate about what they do.
Monkey - 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
People born in the Year of the Monkey are innovative, imaginative, and can solve difficult problems. They are often successful in most things, but tend to look down on others.
Rooster - 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
Rooster people are deep thinkers and capable. They like to be busy and are disappointed if they fail. They are emotional and tend to be loners. They generally think they are right and usually they are.
Dog - 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
People born in the Year of the Dog possess the greatest traits. They are honest, loyal, passionate, and inspire confidence in others. Dog people make good leaders, often have money, and can be eccentric.
Pig - 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019
Pig people are gallant and chivalrous. They go at things whole hog and have great fortitude and honesty. They are very loyal and make good friends. They can be quick-tempered, but hate fighting and arguments.