Today, we will be taking a look at the Chinese zodiac, the twelve-animal-themed signs that make it up, and each of the signs’ corresponding meanings.
Like the Western zodiac that you may be more familiar with, the Chinese zodiac is composed of 12 different signs, with each person’s assigned sign corresponding to when they were born in relation to the zodiac cycle.
However, while the signs of the Western zodiac switch out on a monthly basis, each sign of the Chinese zodiac lasts for an entire year, moving from one sign to the next as part of the Chinese new year, otherwise known as the Lunar New Year.
As a result, it takes 12 years to completely cycle through the Chinese zodiac; in order to find out which sign is yours, all you need
to do is take your birth year and find where it fits into the cycle.
Each of the twelve zodiac signs is represented by an animal; according to some myths created to explain the origin of the zodiac, these were the 12 animals that arrived to help mankind at the request of the Jade Emperor.
In other versions of this myth, these 12 animals decided to compete in a race; the order of signs in the zodiac represents the order in which each of the animals crossed the finish line.
Whatever the reason, each of these 12 animals is believed to embody each of the virtues, flaws, and personality traits of their associated sign, and these traits are shared with whoever was born during that year.
Now, let’s take a look at all the different signs in the Chinese zodiac and see what meanings are most commonly associated with them.
If you want, pause this video for a moment so you can look up which sign corresponds to your birth year; that way, you’ll be
prepared to hear all about your sign when we reach it on the list.
The Rat is the first animal in the Chinese zodiac, and as such, they are associated with new beginnings.
According to some versions of the zodiac’s origin story, the Rat secured its place at the front of the cycle by hitching a ride
on the back of the Ox, only to jump ahead at the last minute in order to be the first one across the finish line.
People who were born during the year of the rat are said to be similarly crafty and inventive, as well as naturally gifted with strengths such as intelligence, determination, and wisdom.
On a less positive note, people born on the year of the rat are also sometimes believed to be selfish, ruthless, and nervous.
In Wu Xing, or the five Chinese elements, the Rat is commonly associated with the element of water.
The second sign of the Chinese zodiac is the sturdy Ox: in some tellings of the zodiac’s origin, the Ox was convinced by the Rat to help them cross the finish line first; similarly, people born on the year of the ox are believed to be kind and loyal to their friends, as well as honest, observant, and cautious.
On the flipside, Oxen might also come across to others as self-righteous, stubborn, or judgmental, so it might be best not to get
on their bad side.
The Ox is associated with the Chinese element of Earth.
Third, in the zodiac is the proud and noble Tiger.
The Tiger was the third to cross the finish line in the race that determined the zodiac and might have placed higher if not for the
fact that they had already winded and exhausted themselves by the time it entered the last leg of the race.
Like the Tiger itself, those born in the year of the tiger are said to be outspoken, adventurous, and enthusiastic, but are also prone to behaviour that can be described as aggressive, arrogant, or anxious, depending on who you ask.
The Tiger is associated with the Chinese element of wood, maybe because of all that time they spend stalking around the forest.
The Rabbit is the fourth animal in the Chinese zodiac, and by that token also the fourth animal that was said to cross the finish line during the race.
Poor guy; between this myth and the story of the tortoise and the hare, it seems as though our long-eared friends just can’t
catch a break.
People born on the year of the rabbit are said to be intuitive, compassionate, and clever, though on bad days they can also reveal themselves as being pessimistic, insecure, and finicky.
To be fair, if all the best stories were about me losing races, I’d feel insecure, too!
Like the Tiger, the Rabbit is associated with the element of wood.
Fifth on the list of animals in the Chinese zodiac is the Dragon.
Hey, wait a minute, since when are fictional animals allowed?
According to myth and legend, the Dragon finished fifth in the zodiac race because they took a detour along the way, bringing rain to a group of thirsty people and animals it passed along the way.
Like the Dragon in the story, people born in the year of the dragon are said to be courageous, compassionate, and charismatic; people born on these years also get exclusive bragging rights for having their sign be an animal so cool it doesn’t even exist.
Unfortunately, people born in the year of the dragon can also be impetuous, inflexible, and brash.
Dragons are associated with the element of earth.
Number six is the Snake.
Much like how the Rat was able to hitch a ride on the Ox during the race, it is said that the snake was able to get ahead by wrapping itself around the hoof of the Horse.
As such, people born on the year of the snake are said to be meticulous planners and careful strategists, as well as wise, sympathetic, and often beautiful.
However, people born during these years are also said to be hedonistic, duplicitous, and sometimes even outright maliciously.
Mess with a Snake and you can expect to get bitten.
The Snake is also associated with the element of fire.
We’re past the halfway point in the cycle now!
Leading the charge for the second half is number seven, the Horse.
Had it not been for a sneaky Snake hitching a ride on their hoof, chances are this noble stallion would have been able to place higher in the rankings; but seeing as they didn’t come in dead last, perhaps this is one gift the horse shouldn’t look in the mouth.
Fortunately, the Horse doesn’t hold a grudge; people born on the year of the horse are described as easygoing, witty, and highly energetic.
However, on their off days, a person born on one of these years might instead be impatient, impulsive, and self-centered.
Horses are associated with the element of fire.
The Sheep is the eighth animal in the Chinese zodiac; it is said that the Sheep was able to form an alliance with the Rooster and the Monkey in order to help each other across the finish line, and to this day the Sheep sign is still considered the mark of a true
People born on the year of the Sheep can be described as intelligent, romantic, and compassionate, though they are also said to have the capacity to be indecisive, disorganized and timid.
I guess that’s why timid people are sometimes described as “sheepish”.
The Sheep is associated with the element of earth.
The Monkey is the ninth member of the Chinese zodiac cycle; as we said before, the story of the race claims that the Monkey joined forces with the Sheep and the Rooster in order to help each other reach the finish line.
As a result, people born under the year of the monkey are said to be good additions to any team, being able to contribute using their confident, charming, and humorous natures.
No monkey business here!
Monkeys also have a dark side, however, and can also be distrustful, opportunistic, or manipulative if they feel like it, so try not to get sucked in by their charm unless you want them to throw a “monkey” wrench into all your plans.
The Monkey is associated with the Chinese element of metal.
The Rooster Number 10 on the Chinese zodiac is the Rooster, thus wrapping up the Rooster-Monkey-Sheep trifecta from the story of the race.
The Rooster was, in fact, the leader of this alliance, and their natural leadership skills shine through in people who are born under
People born on the year of the rooster are expected to be capable, self-reliant, and brave; don’t let anybody convince you that being called a “chicken” is an insult!
However, Roosters can also potentially turn out to be controlling, insensitive, and reckless, so it may be best to avoid running “afoul” of them.
Like the Monkey, the Rooster is associated with the element of metal.
Eleventh on the Chinese zodiac is everyone’s best friend, the Dog!
According to the story of the race, the reason the Dog placed so low in the rankings is that they stopped playing in the water instead of crossing the finish line.
Because of this, it should come as no surprise that those who were born under the year of the dog are similarly playful and carefree, as well as sincere, protective, and helpful towards their friends and loved ones.
If you thought these canine companions were all bark and no bite, don’t be fooled; people born on the year of the dog might also turn out to be cynical, stubborn, and overly aggressive if rubbed the wrong way.
The Dog is associated with the element of Earth hey, is it just me or are there a lot of earth signs in this zodiac?
What’s shakin’, bacon?
Last but certainly not least in the Chinese zodiac cycle is the Pig.
As much as we say slow and steady wins the race, that sadly doesn’t seem to be the case for the Pig– according to legend, the
Pig ended up placing last in the race because they decided to stop and take a nap halfway through, which only serves to demonstrate the Pig’s easygoing nature.
People born during the year of the pig are believed to be thoughtful, creative, and curious, and it’s worth mentioning that pigs in China are considered a symbol of good luck.
Like all the other signs, though, Pigs have their share of flaws as well; people who belong to this sign might also be materialistic,
gullible, and short-tempered.
The Pig is most commonly associated with the element of water.
And with that, our overview of the Chinese zodiac’s 12 signs comes to a close.
So which sign is yours?
Do you feel like you match up with the description of your animal, or do you think this astrology stuff is all a load of “hog” wash?
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